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UVA Teams Wins $2.7M NIH Grant to Study Genetic Variation in Atherosclerosis

NEW YORK — The National Institutes of Health has awarded researchers at the University of Virginia a $2.7 million grant to investigate how variation in a specific gene, called ID3, influences atherosclerosis.

UVA scientists previously linked an ID3 SNP to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in humans. Loss of ID3 has also been shown to inhibit vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) proliferation and drive the expression of inflammatory factors, both of which promote atherosclerosis. With the NIH funding, a team led by UVA's Coleen McNamara and Eli Zunder will use single-cell analysis to study how a range of ID3 polymorphisms affect VSMC phenotypes.

"We have known for 20 years that the ID3 gene was connected to cardiovascular disease, and we identified the association of the single nucleotide polymorphism with human artery plaque 10 years ago," McNamara said in a statement. "But we did not have the technology to identify the unique changes on a single-cell level that would enhance our insights into how this occurs."

"We may be able to uncover the processes that trigger disease and create an effective precision diagnostic tool in a much shorter time frame," she added.