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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

UNC: Team Receives $6.2M to Study Obesity-associated Cardiovascular Disease

Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen — a professor in the Department of Nutrition and associate dean for research at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health — and a multidisciplinary team of researchers have been awarded a $6.2 million grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study how the body’s metabolic processes influence obesity-related cardiovascular disease (CVD).

The team also is led by Dr. Christy Avery, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Dr. Kari North, professor in the Department of Epidemiology, and Dr. Susan Sumner, professor in the Department of Nutrition, who will work with Dr. Gordon-Larsen on the study “Leveraging multi-omics approaches to examine metabolic challenges of obesity in relation to CVD.”

Cardiovascular diseases are leading causes of morbidity, mortality and early disability. They can be exacerbated by obesity, a disease that is rapidly becoming more prevalent in the United States. As not all obese individuals are at risk for CVD, and not all individuals with CVDs are obese, previous research suggests a genetic component of CVD risk lies in specific metabolic pathways that influence obesity.

Metabolites are small molecules that circulate in the blood, and they can be important disease biomarkers and potential targets for medicines and therapies.

“With newly emerging technologies and methodological advancements, we can look at molecular and genetic signals in blood to understand the complex relationship between obesity and cardiovascular diseases,” said Dr. Gordon-Larsen. “When we examine metabolites in relation to genetics, we can gain insight into which individuals are most susceptible to cardiovascular disease and how obesity plays a role in exacerbating their risk.”

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