OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Health Screenings Aid Analysis of Genetic Basis for Disease

02/05/2008

PORTLAND, Ore. – Researchers and students from the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State University have completed free health screenings and blood sample collections from about 1,700 Portland-area residents in recent months as part of a long-term project to learn more about the genetics of certain health risks.

The studies also included a recent group of Latino residents at local health fairs, and more projects may be planned in the future. Inquiries are welcome.

“The concept is to identify the genes that may be associated with such issues as high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated glucose levels or high cholesterol,” said Craig Williams, an associate professor of pharmacy instruction. “This program helps us get the necessary data for our research, and in turn local residents get free dietary analysis, nutrition and exercise advice, and about $40 worth of free blood chemistry tests.”

The initiative, Williams said, has been very successful and also fits well with increased public outreach and educational efforts the College of Pharmacy is emphasizing.

Besides gaining data on general populations, he said, the research program wants to identify the genetic underpinning of special risks that may face African American, Latino, Native American or other minority groups.

“When we know more about the genetic basis for certain common health problems, we may be better able to adjust recommendations for lifestyle, medical therapies or the ways different patients may respond to certain medications,” Williams said. “We’ll do a DNA analysis on every person we tested.”

Additional programs similar to this may continue in the future, he said. Anyone interested can contact Williams and fill out necessary forms to see if they may qualify for a study, by email at williacr@ohsu.edu

The program has been supported by the OSU College of Pharmacy and the National Institutes of Health, and many of the recent health screenings were done in collaboration with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.