Mount Sinai Researchers Will Use $2.9 Million NIH Grant to Study Disease in Ethnically-Diverse Populations

Researchers will tap the Mount Sinai BioBank Program, BioMe™, which includes Electronic Medical Records on 29,000 patients.

New York
 – September 13, 2013 /Press Release/  –– 

Subtle differences in genetic makeup in ethnically-diverse populations may account for a higher incidence of some diseases among groups including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and others. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai will use a four-year, $2.9 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to gain a greater understanding of the underlying causes, in order to improve treatment and to achieve reductions in health disparities among underserved minority populations.  

Ruth Loos, PhD, Professor of Preventive Medicine and Director of The Genetics of Obesity and Related Metabolic Traits Program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, will lead the study as principal investigator. "We hope to learn the reasons why minorities are harder hit by metabolic, heart, and kidney disorders, and we believe that our findings in New York will translate to better health outcomes for these populations across the United States," said Dr. Loos.

The study will be conducted as part of the second phase of the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) study of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) of the NIH.  "The goal of the PAGE program is to investigate ancestrally driven populations to gain a better understanding of how genetic factors influence susceptibility to disease," said Lucia Hindorff, PhD, PAGE program director at NHGRI. "We wanted the second group of grants to focus on non-whites because many tend to have a greater incidence of disease," Dr. Hindorff  said in the NIH news release announcing the PAGE grants to Mount Sinai and four other research teams (

Dr. Loos and her Mount Sinai colleagues will examine data from 29,000 ethnically-diverse patients participating in the Mount Sinai BioBank Program, called BioMe™, which is among the largest in the United States. Mount Sinai’s BioMe™ biobank is unique in that each patient has broadly consented to DNA sequencing, contact from researchers, and longitudinal studies related to data embedded in the electronic medical record (EMR).

Erwin Bottinger, MD, The Irene and Dr. Arthur Fishberg Professor of Medicine, and Director, The Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine at Mount Sinai, said: "To my knowledge, this is the first study that will be based entirely on patients in real-world clinical care to examine how genetic factors influence differences in common diseases observed across diverse New York City communities."  Researchers at the Bronfman Institute aim to refine disease risk assessment and improve responsiveness to treatments through genomic medicine and data-driven care.

Leaders of the four other teams receiving grants in the second phase of the PAGE program, supporting studies on groups of diversified heritages, include: Chris Haiman, PhD, from the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; Loic Le Marchand, MD, PhD from the University of Hawaii, Honolulu, representing The Multiethnic Cohort Study; Kari North, PhD, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, representing the CaLiCo Consortium; and Charles Kooperberg, PhD, and Ulrike Peters, PhD from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle representing the Women’s Health Initiative.  The grant’s data coordinating center will be at Rutgers University, led by Tara Matise, PhD and Steven Buyske, PhD.

"This will be the largest collaboration yet that examines the genetic makeup of understudied and underserved minority populations ," added Dr. Loos. "We are thrilled to work together on this important endeavor."

About the NGHRI / NIH
The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is one of the 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health. The NHGRI Extramural Research Program supports grants for research and training and career development at sites nationwide. Additional information about NHGRI can be found at NIH, the nation's medical research agency, is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center
The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Established in 1968, the Icahn School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States, with more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes. It ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. The Mount Sinai Hospital is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 hospitals in 7 specialties based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors.

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