Speakers

Dr. John Blangero, Ph.D

The genetic underpinnings of common diseases like diabetes and heart disease have proven to be complex. Dr. Blangero has focused his research on the development and application of sophisticated statistical methods to analyze the vast quantities of genetic data generated in large family studies. Dr. Blangero is developing novel approaches to integrate bioinformatic data mining, gene expression analysis, epigenomic, metabolomic, functional genomic and association analysis into methods that will significantly reduce the time and cost of gene discovery. In addition to serving as Director of the STDOI Genomics Computing Center in the UTRGV School of Medicine, Dr. Blangero is the director of the San Antonio Family Heart Study which continues to be an invaluable resource for exploring many genetic questions. His research group is utilizing data generated by this project to search for genes that influence risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. He also has a major program searching for genes that regulate brain structure and function. The San Antonio Family Heart Study was one of the first major studies to incorporate genomic imaging--an emerging field that combines genetic analysis with magnetic resonance imaging to obtain highly detailed information on both anatomic variation and function in the heart and in the brain. Dr. Blangero led the establishment of state-of-the-art molecular genetics laboratories and computing facilities on the UTRGV Brownsville campus and orchestrated the installation of an 11,000-processor high-performance computer cluster named MEDUSA which serves as one of the world's largest parallel computing cluster devoted to genetic research. Dr. Blangero’s group also added new genome sequencers to enable deep sequencing techniques to more quickly find gene variants, measure their output, and accelerate the pace of translational research leading to better diagnostics and eventual treatments for improved human health. Most recently, Dr. Blangero has been involved in the development of a large-scale program for the routine production of stem cells from blood for use in functional genomic studies. His laboratory is pursuing high dimensional phenotyping of different cell types that are derived from such stem cells to better understand the function of human sequence variation. Dr. Blangero has major multi-year multi-million dollar research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Disorders, and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute to utilize whole genome sequencing to search for genes influencing psychiatric disorders, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease respectively.

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