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Medical geneticist at Cedars-Sinai awarded $8.5 million NIH research grant

LOS ANGELES, August 18, 2003 Medical geneticist and scientist, Jerome I. Rotter, M.D., has received an $8.5 million grant to further his search for the genes that contribute to heart disease in Mexican-American, African American, and Chinese populations within the U.S. Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide and the largest killer in the United States.

Dr. Rotter, Director of the Division of Medical Genetics and Director of the Common Disease Genetics Program at Cedars-Sinai, and his colleagues Drs. Leslie Raffel, Kent Taylor, and Xiuging Guo will receive about $1.7 million annually over a five-year period from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The study will take place at 11 centers throughout the country.

The NIH grant will provide funding for the "MESA Family Study," an ancillary study to the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, or MESA study (CSMC IRB No. 4174-01). MESA itself is a 10-year study of 6,800 people in four major U.S. ethnic groups to evaluate the origins of heart disease and to identify risk factors in multi-ethnic populations. The MESA Family study, under Dr. Rotter's leadership, builds on the existing MESA research by determining how genes contribute to coronary calcium in African-American and Hispanic American families and in Chinese Americans. Coronary calcium is a marker of the fatty plaque deposits that build-up in the arteries and can block blood-flow to the heart. Because coronary calcium builds up over time, symptoms do not usually appear until a person experiences chest pain or has a heart attack.

"In essence, our study serves as the genetic arm of the MESA study, as MESA evaluates the early natural history of coronary artery disease, while in the MESA Family study we aim to find the genes that contribute to this coronary artery disease," commented Dr. Rotter. "What we learn will eventually help us to identify people at the highest risk of developing heart disease so that we can ult
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Contact: Kelli Hanley
kelli.hanley@cshs.org
310-423-3674
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
18-Aug-2003


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