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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

BU Professor Awarded $2.5M Grant to Study Genetic Links to Obesity

Dr. Anita L. DeStefano, a professor of biostatistics at Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH), has been awarded a $2.5 million grant over four years to study the relationship between obesity and gene expression in the brain.

[Photo: Dr. Anita L. DeStefano]

Previous genetic studies have identified about 100 gene regions that have an association with obesity, with others possibly still undiscovered, Dr. DeStefano said. The study will examine gene expression of both RNA and microRNA using next-generation sequencing technology from individuals who were consistently obese or consistently normal weight prior to death.

“If we look at gene expression within a very relevant area of the brain, we might be able to identify new genes,” Dr. Destefano said. “Obesity is a complex process and we’re trying to understand specifically how genes and their products are working within the brain to influence someone’s risk for obesity.”

Dr. DeStefano, who also holds an appointment as an associate professor of neurology at BU Medical School (BUMC), and a team of collaborators from BUMC will analyze post-mortem brain samples from the Framingham Heart Study, the Rush University Religious Orders Study, and the Rush Memory and Aging Project. Participants in all three of those long-term studies agreed to donate their brain upon death

To read more about the grant, go to: