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Transatlantic Networks of Excellence 2009-2010

LeducqUniv.-Prof. Dr. Weber, IMCAR, hat als European Coordinator zusammen mit Dr. Dan Rader von der University of Pennsylvania das mit 5 Mio. Euro dotierte Leducq Transatlantic Network of Excellence erhalten. In diesem Forschungsverbund sollen genomweit neue Zielgene identifiziert werden, welche mit veränderten Lipidspiegeln, mit Atherosklerose und Herzinfarkt assoziiert sind. Weiter soll eine Plattform geschaffen werden, um durch diese Gene vermittelte molekulare Mechanismen und deren therapeutische Nutzbarkeit auch in Tiermodellen und Patientenstudien aufklären zu können.

Transatlantic Networks of Excellence 2009-2010

In April, the Fondation Leducq Scientific Advisory Committee selected four new Transatlantic Networks of Excellence for funding. These networks were chosen based on the quality of the research plan, the strength of the international collaboration, and the commitment to the development of young investigators. Each research network will receive $6,000,000 over five years to support a collaborative research program involving European and North American investigators. Among the selected networks is the following:

Molecular mechanisms of novel genes associated with plasma lipids and cardiovascular disease

  • European Coordinator:
    Christian WEBER, RWTH Aachen University (Germany)

  • North American Coordinator:
    Daniel RADER, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia (USA)

It has long been known that blood levels of lipids like cholesterol are important risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Lipid levels and atherosclerosis both run in families, but how these traits are genetically determined is poorly understood. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) represent one approach to identifying the relevant genes. In a typical GWAS, genetic variations throughout the entire genome are compared between two groups of individuals, those with and those without the trait of interest, such as high cholesterol levels or atherosclerosis. Genetic variations that are more frequent in one group are considered to indicate the regions of the genome (loci) that are likely responsible for the presence or absence of the trait. In recent years, GWAS for atherosclerotic disease have identified multiple loci of interest, but thus far very few have been adequately characterized to determine the exact mechanisms of how the specific genes at these loci influence disease risk. This network will study 6 loci found to be associated with atherosclerotic disease in previous GWAS. Three of these loci appear to affect blood lipid levels. This multidisciplinary team includes experts in epidemiology, human genetics, molecular and cell biology, and animal physiology. In addition to identifying new potential therapeutic targets, this research program will also establish an infrastructure for the systematic evaluation of future GWAS results.