Analysis

Pew Latin American Fellow Investigates Disease-Causing Gene Mutations

Juan Fuxman Bass, Ph.D., a 2012 Pew Latin American fellow originally from Argentina, is lead author of a study published in Cell describing powerful new techniques for identifying genetic sequences associated with disease.

Genetic regulatory networks control human development and physiology by dictating when and how genes are turned on or off. Disruptions to these networks can lead to a range of diseases, including cancer.

Until recently, researchers could only study the genetic mutations that disturb regulation of genetic sequences one by one, which was inefficient and slow. Now, they can quickly and effectively identify the genetic regulatory sequences that control hundreds of disease-associated mutations simultaneously, thanks to a new technology devised by Bass and his mentor, Marian Walhout, Ph.D., professor of molecular medicine and co-director of the Program in Systems Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Their novel system of identifying these multifactorial gene networks that underlie disease will uncover new strategies for blocking genetic interactions that could lead to disease.

The Pew Latin American Fellows Program in the Biomedical Sciences pairs outstanding scientists from Latin America with distinguished mentors in the United States for postdoctoral training. The program supports these individuals, giving them an opportunity to further their scientific knowledge by promoting exchange and collaboration among investigators in the United States and Latin America. Read more about Juan Fuxman Bass’s team at the University of Massachusetts here.

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