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Mike Bamshad, M.D.

The National Heart Lung and Blood Institute Lung Cohort Sequencing Project is a new effort at the University of Washington to discover variation in the human genome that influences both acute and chronic lung diseases. Specifically, the overall goal of our project is to understand how variation in the human genome makes lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, acute lung injury, pulmonary arterial hypertension, and cystic fibrosis more severe in some people than in others. We don't really understand the genetic causes for why certain people are more susceptible to particular heart and lung conditions versus other folks. And so research such as this will really begin to unfold what those causes of those particular conditions are and really be able to help people who are afflicted with these diseases to improve their lives. As a pediatric pulmonologist, I take care of children with cystic fibrosis (CF). And this stimulus money is going to allow us to actually do the studies to identify genetic modifiers of CF lung disease and CF lung infection. So this has given us a very unique and exciting opportunity to study this in CF. And this is very important not only to care providers, but you can imagine how important it is to the families and the patients to get new information about how we can better treat CF lung disease and early CF lung infections. The hiring capabilities that this funding has given us, we're really excited about the opportunities that it's opening up to hire new administration staff, research staff, to participate in the reporting and the overall research of this project. The Recovery Act gives us the opportunity to explore some of those opportunities very quickly and to hopefully translate that into new therapeutics, new clinical management schemes, and certainly an opportunity to understand the basic biology of many of the lung diseases that have perplexed us for a long time.

Mike Bamshad, M.D.
Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington
ARRA - NHLBI Lung Cohorts Sequencing Project
Administered by the NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases, Airway Biology and Disease Branch
FY 2009 Recovery Act Funding: $2,594,102

Research Focus: As a population geneticist, Michael Bamshad, M.D. studies how variations in DNA from person to person influence not only how we look, but also whether - and how badly - we get sick. His research focuses on measuring gene variation in human populations, identifying variations that raise or lower disease susceptibility in individuals and in different ethnic groups, and developing new techniques to conduct these kinds of studies.

Grant Close-Up: Lung diseases affect tens of millions of American adults and children and can dramatically diminish quality of life. One lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In the Lung Cohorts Sequencing Project - part of the NHLBI Large-Scale DNA Sequencing Project - Dr. Bamshad will compare the "coding" segments of the DNA of 1,400 ethnically diverse people who participated in NHLBI-funded population studies of lung disease. Using new bioinformatics techniques, he'll look for both common and rare gene variations that influence the severity of lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), acute lung injury (also called acute respiratory distress syndrome), pulmonary arterial hypertension, and cystic fibrosis. His goal is to better understand the biology of these diseases so doctors can improve diagnosis and treatment and researchers can develop new therapies.

"We want to make strides in the management of a group of diseases that impact the youngest and the oldest in our country," said Dr. Bamshad.

Economic Impact: Recovery Act funds have allowed Dr. Bamshad to hire a diverse team of research scientists in genetics, molecular biology, statistics, and ethics to help find and understand the impact of DNA variations on lung disease.

He'll be able to support both young and established staff not only at the University of Washington but also across the country, including researchers at Johns Hopkins University, the University of North Carolina, and Seattle Children's Hospital.

Plus, Dr. Bamshad will share his findings with other investigators who are looking into the genetic basis of lung diseases.

Day in the Life: On an average day in the lab, Dr. Bamshad works with clinical coordinators about study subjects, research staff about the design or outcome of various experiments, and graduate students or post-doctoral fellows about the projects they're working on. Meetings often include basic and clinical scientists.

"It's the bridging of people with different perspectives that creates the most fertile environments for nurturing new scientific priorities and strategies," said Dr. Bamshad.

A Born Scientist: "I've wanted to be a physician and scientist since I was in sixth grade. In fact, several years ago I found an essay that I wrote in grade school about what I wanted to do when I grew up. It fairly accurately describes what I do day-to-day now."

Outside the Lab: "I'm an avid SCUBA diver and underwater photographer. The diversity of fishes and invertebrates is absolutely amazing - and probably very interesting to study too."

By Stephanie Dutchen

Last Updated:August 10, 2010

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