Press Archive

SDSC collaborates with new UCSD center to study genes, disease

Published 06/21/2004

By Bruce Lieberman

(619) 293-2836;

A new research center at the University of California San Diego will study the genetic origins of disease, the university announced yesterday.

The Center for Human Genetics/Genomics aims to increase science's understanding of human genes to better diagnose and treat illnesses based on a person's individual genetic makeup.

The enterprise will draw on university faculty in medicine, pharmacy, biology, biostatistics and mathematics.

The Human Genome Project in the 1990s, which led to a map of the genes in human DNA, "paved the way for more sophisticated efforts to understand how genes work and why genes do what they do," said Dr. Anthony Wynshaw-Boris, the center's director and a UCSD professor of pediatrics and medicine.

"This is what we are investigating," he said. "If we can identify what it is about defective genes that causes them to create disease, then we can develop strategies to potentially correct those defects."

Scientists at the center will embark on gene studies of single-gene diseases, such as Huntington's disease, and other illnesses caused by several genes, such as schizophrenia.

Work will involve animal studies as well as sophisticated computer analyses coordinated with the San Diego Supercomputer Center at UCSD.

Wynshaw-Boris, who studies the genetic basis for various birth defects, seeks to better understand the origins of mental retardation.

He will lead the new center with Nicholas Schork, a statistical geneticist with expertise in large-scale genetic studies, and Daniel O'Connor, a national leader in tailoring medical treatments to a person's individual genetic profile.

The center will be on the fourth floor of UCSD's new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences building when it opens in 2005.

The center plans to host monthly seminars and national meetings for researchers and to develop a new curriculum for students.