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Genomics and Medicine, with Aroon Hingorani

JamesHeather19 March 2013

DNA double helix (courtesy of the National Human
Genome Research Institute via
Wikimedia Commons)

In recognition of February’s status as National Heart Month, Professor Aroon Hingorani recently took to the stage for a Lunch Hour Lecture about the opportunities and challenges associated with using genomics to improve personal and public health.

Genomics is the study of genomes – all of the DNA contained in the cell of an organism.

The ability to read, or ‘sequence’, DNA has been improving exponentially over the last few decades and we can sequence far more DNA than ever before, in less time and at a lower cost.

One of the most significant recent developments in this field was the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. This ambitious undertaking provided scientists everywhere with a blueprint of what our genomes look like.

By comparing DNA test results to this template researchers can identify the differences that might cause disease.

However, things are rarely that simple in medicine.

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Genetic testing for risk of Heart Disease: fact or fiction?

newseditor28 February 2012

Professor Steve Humphries (UCL Institute of Human Genetics and Health) delivered an insightful and comprehensive Lunch Hour Lecture, on 23 February, regarding the issues surrounding genetic testing for risk of heart disease.

The lecture was broken down into four manageable chunks: (1) The causes and mechanisms of heart disease (2) What is a gene? (3) What is SNP and how is it useful? (4) How can we use DNA tests?

The causes and mechanisms of heart disease
To begin the lecture Professor Humphries challenged the audience to suggest known risk factors for heart disease. This was effective in engaging the audience and a wide-ranging list was compiled, including: high blood pressure, obesity, smoking, diabetes, age and male gender. The risk factors could be genetic or environmental, but in reality, many are a combination of both.

Professor Humphries then proceeded to explain briefly the mechanisms of heart disease illustrating his points with some supportive graphics.

To summarise, he described the fact that after being born with clean arteries there can be the process of ‘silent build up’, which takes place in early adulthood. Although this can be reversed, in many it will lead on to fatty streaks, atherosclerotic plaques and in the unfortunate; chest pain, plaque rupture and myocardial infarction.

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Salt Awareness & Hypertension Management in the African & Caribbean Population Forum

CarlySchnabl7 April 2011

Dr Derin Balogun, Founding Director of Heart Campaign reports on the “Salt Awareness & Hypertension Management in the African & Caribbean Population” discussion forum that was hosted on 24th March 2011 by Heart Campaign in partnership with UCL. The event was chaired by Professor Morris Brown (FMedSci), Professor of Clinical Pharmacology from the University of Cambridge.

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