COPH faculty presents research on the intersection of public health and genomics

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Members of the USF College of Public Health (COPH) genomics faculty recently participated in the Genomics of Global and Planetary Health Symposium, held on the USF campus in March and attended by about 60 USF students and faculty.

This year, the presentations focused on the study of genomics in a global context and highlighted researchers from the newly expanded USF Genomics Program. It was sponsored by the USF Genomics Program as well as the Global Health and Infectious Disease Research Center (GHIDR) and the COPH’s Global and Planetary Health strategic area.

The symposium—which now occurs annually—started in 2012 and examined frontiers in drug discoveries. Over the years the topics have changed, but they still focus on groundbreaking research.

“The event is designed to bring together local, national and, depending on the year, international researchers who present their cutting-edge work on infectious disease- and genomics-related topics,” said Dr. Monica Uddin, a COPH genomics professor and one of the organizers of the event. “This can help to inspire new research directions among the students, postdocs and faculty who attend.”

Monica Uddin, PhD (Photo courtesy of Uddin)

Three COPH faculty members in the genomics program spoke at this year’s event:

  • Dr. Xiaoming Liu, whose interests lie in understanding the variants in human genomes and developing novel statistical and computational methods to analyze DNA sequence data, presented his research entitled “Functional annotation of DNA variants as the first step toward genomic medicine.”
  • Dr. Derek Wildman, whose research interests focus on how obstetrical syndromes such as preterm birth and preeclampsia (a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure) became common in the human species and whether these syndromes are also common in other mammalian species, presented “Noninvasive monitoring of fetal gene expression in maternal biofluids.”
  • Dr. Monica Uddin, who specializes in identifying genetic and epigenetic (biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off) predictors of stress-related mental disorders—particularly depression and post-traumatic stress disorder—presented “Methylomic profiles of post-traumatic stress disorder in peripheral tissues.”

There were other presenters—namely from the USF Morsani College of Medicine. Uddin noted that this year’s symposium was an opportunity to highlight new members of the genomics faculty, from both Morsani and the COPH.

COPH professor Xiaoming Liu, PhD, presented some of his research at the 2019 Genomics of Global and Planetary Health Symposium. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

“This year, our symposium was designed to focus on the accomplishments of our newly expanded Genomics Program, which recruited several new faculty over the past year or so,” said Uddin, who is among those new faculty members. “It was an occasion to introduce ourselves to the USF community and to showcase the breadth of our distinct-yet-complementary work in genomic-oriented research.”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health