NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A Case Western Reserve University researcher has won a $3.9 million Director's Pioneer Award from the National Institutes of Health to continue potentially groundbreaking studies of how risk of disease depends on the genetics of ancestral generations.
The five-year award to professor Joseph Nadeau, chair of the CWRU genetics department, will be used to further research based on Nadeau's findings that genes from ancestral generations influence disease risk as much as an individual's own inherited genes.
Funded under the NIH's Roadmap for Medical Research program, the Pioneer Awards program is aimed at funding creative researchers who propose transformative approaches to major biomedical challenges.
Nadeau's work has focused on the genetics of mouse models of common human diseases and conditions such as cancer, birth defects, and obesity. His research has suggested that transgenerational disease genes may be present in previous generations but not necessarily in affected individuals.
"We found that transgenerational genetic effects rival conventional effects in frequency and strength," Nadeau and his co-authors wrote in the August issue of the journal Epigenomics.
According to a Case Western press release, "The major challenge now is to identify the molecular basis for these effects and to determine whether a similar mode of inheritance occurs in humans."