Trainee Author: Douglas Dluzen, PhD
National Institute on Aging
(Photo courtesy Dr. Dluzen)
This paper emphasizes the importance of miRNA on population specific gene expression patterns. Dluzen et al. demonstrate that differential expression of a set of miRNAs correlate with expression of a larger set of target genes in pathways which are relevant to disease pathogenesis and are differentially expressed between patients of different genetic background.
This study is good example of a precision medicine themed approach to showing how a mechanistic understanding of the differential gene expression can yield biomarkers that can be used for early detection of disease, as well as potential therapeutic targets.
ASHG: Could you describe your research for us?
Dr. Dluzen: Disparities in aging and age-related disease are a major healthcare concern in the United States. I study genetic and epigenetic factors that contribute to cardiovascular heath disparities in women.
More specifically, I identify and examine novel mechanisms governing these factors as potential therapeutic interventions. Additionally, I study the role that circulating RNAs contribute to the aging process in humans.
ASHG: What are your career goals?
Dr. Dluzen: I am concerned with the decline in scientific understanding in America, particularly at the grade school and college levels. I want to become a teaching faculty at an undergraduate school so that I can help train and inspire the next generation of scientists.
I also want to continue promoting science advocacy and outreach in the community as a means to further the general public’s understanding of the scientific process. This is especially true for promoting awareness and discussion about health disparities and advances in gene editing technologies.
ASHG: Why did you choose genetics as your field of study?
Dr. Dluzen: Since I was very young I have always been interested in how our genes contribute to who we are and how we interact with the world. Training to become a geneticist was a natural progression of that curiosity, and I feel very fortunate that I have had the opportunity to continue to enhance my understanding of and curiosity about human genetics in my professional career.
ASHG: Describe yourself in three words.
Dr. Dluzen: Curious, Gregarious, Driven.