National Institutes of Health award federal grant to UTRGV professor

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EDINBURG, Texas (ValleyCentral) — UTRGV Professor Dr. Joanne Curran was awarded a $2 million, four-year federal grant to identify rare gene mutations in large families in the South Texas area.

As the principal investigator on the study, Dr. Curran said their focus is to identify individuals at greater risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

“We are learning more about the genetics of diabetes,” Curran said. “However, we’re still scratching the surface at this point, and there is still a lot to learn.”

In mostly Hispanic South Texas, the area’s rate of Type 2 diabetes far surpasses the national and state rates. Curran and her team of scientists believe the genetic makeup of the Hispanic community may hold the key to understand how the disease functions, said the news release.

The grant, awarded by the National Institutes of Health, is titled “Assessing the Influence of the Human Lipidome on Risk of Diabetes in a Minority Population.” It focuses on identifying how rare gene mutations that correlate with diabetes have an effect on lipids, one of the building blocks of proteins in human cells.

For this study, the South Texas Diabetes and Obesity Institute team will use blood samples available from a large biobank of South Texas Hispanic families.

Curran said they are in the process of measuring the more than 800 different lipids in each of these samples for analysis.

Read the full story here.

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