The purpose of this Mentored Career Development Award to Promote Faculty Diversity in Biomedical Research (K01) is to support Dr. White's development into an independent biomedical researcher and leader in pulmonary disease, genetic epidemiology, pharmacogenetics, and health disparities research with a focus on obese-asthma in minority children. Obese-asthma is a severe asthma phenotype highly prevalent in children; specifically, Latino and African American children carry the majority of the disease burden. Dr. White's long-term career goal is to create a research program centered on the identification of genetic and genomic risk factors associated with risk of obese-asthma and obese-asthma related phenotypes (i.e. exacerbations, drug response) in minority children. The proposed mentored research for this application is to apply an integrative genomics approach to identify common and rare genetic variants, and gene expression patterns, associated with obese-asthma in African American, Puerto Rican, and Mexican American children. To support this research and Dr. White's goal of becoming an independent researcher, this K01 proposal includes formal mentored training through didactic coursework, hands-on internships and tailored tutorials in genomic analysis and health disparities research, immersive workshops in advanced next generation sequencing analysis, R01 grant writing, and responsible conduct in research. This training will be applied to the completion of the proposed research via three specific aims: (1) identify common and rare variants associated with obese-asthma risk using whole genome sequencing data, (2) identify genes that are differential expressed in children with obese-asthma versus those without obese-asthma, (3) use a heuristic approach to prioritize variants associated with obese-asthma in the discovery population in five independent replication populations. To achieve these goals, Dr. White has assembled a multi-disciplinary mentoring team comprised of a primary mentor, Dr. Esteban Burchard, Director of the UCSF Center on Genes, Environment, and Health, and several co-mentors including Drs. Max Seibold, Nadav Ahituv, Noah Zaitlen, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, and David Erle. The University of California, San Francisco is the ideal environment for the proposed training as it provides access to experts in asthma, genetics, epidemiology, bioinformatics, and world-class biomedical facilities and equipment. Dr. White is an African American statistical geneticist, with a history of productive collaboration with her mentoring team as well as a documented commitment to mentoring young scientists from under-represented minority groups. Completion of the proposed research and career development activities in this application will inform the development of an R01 proposal and enable Dr. White to develop an innovative research program in obese-asthma genetics and genomics. With support from this award, Dr. White can become a leader in genetic epidemiology and continue to serve as a research mentor and role model for young minority scientists.

Public Health Relevance

This study will improve the understanding of the genetic and genomic risk factors for obese-asthma in minority children. The twin epidemics of asthma and obesity, and the changing population demographics in the United States, underscores the importance of understanding the etiology of obese-asthma in multiple populations, particularly in Puerto Rican and African American children who carry the highest disease burden. This study will be the first, and largest, study to employ the use of next-generation sequencing techniques to discover variants that confer genetic susceptibility to obese-asthma, or any asthma phenotype, in minority children.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Scientist Development Award - Research & Training (K01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZHL1)
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Tigno, Xenia
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University of California San Francisco
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
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Zeiger, Andrew M; White, Marquitta J; Eng, Celeste et al. (2018) Genetic Determinants of Telomere Length in African American Youth. Sci Rep 8:13265
Mak, Angel C Y; White, Marquitta J; Eckalbar, Walter L et al. (2018) Whole-Genome Sequencing of Pharmacogenetic Drug Response in Racially Diverse Children with Asthma. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 197:1552-1564