Investigators in the Metabolic, Cardiovascular and Inflammatory Disease Genomics Branch (MCIDGB) study the genomic and social determinants of complex diseases. They focus, in particular, on diseases that are disproportionately distributed by ethnicity and geography (e.g., diabetes, hypertension, heart and kidney disease, scleroderma and podoconiosis). MCIDGB researchers analyze genomic data to document and interpret the non-random distribution of human genetic variation, as well as to understand human history and how it informs disease distribution and etiology. Through large genomic initiatives, such as the Human Heredity and Health in Africa-H3Africa-project, this branch facilitates inclusion of populations currently underrepresented in the genomic revolution.
Branch investigators use genetic and genomic strategies to elucidate the molecular basis, pathophysiology and treatment of human inflammatory diseases. A referral clinic established at the NIH Clinical Center has evaluated more than 1,700 patients with known or currently uncharacterized inflammatory illnesses-the largest such cohort in the United States. This clinic uses a methodology that entails close coordination of long-term clinical observation, genetic analysis and functional studies.
MCIDGB investigators seek to understand the relationships and interdependencies among clinical phenotypes, human behavior, biosurveillance, and molecular, genomic and social determinants; their effects on gene expression; as well as their contribution to health disparities in cardiovascular disease. They utilize a combination of noninvasive imaging, biomedical informatics, system biology and genomic epidemiology to investigate the pathobiology of cardiovascular diseases. In addition, they conduct research related to the effects of social determinants on cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality and on gene expression among disproportionately affected subpopulations.
The branch houses the Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health, which advances research into the role of culture, lifestyle, genetics and genomics in disease etiology, differential susceptibilities to disease and variable drug response. Researchers pursue both individual- and population-level approaches. The center’s scientists develop genetic epidemiology models that explore the patterns and determinants of common, complex diseases in populations in the United States and around the world.6