News - Press Releases

From the news bureaus

The Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics posts news releases about its activities, usually through the UC Davis News and Information service.  The press releases are posted by year.



2003

22 January 2003

New Center Will Probe Links Between Diet, Genes And Disease


Exploring the links between diet, genes and diseases in minority populations is the aim of a new National Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics at the University of California, Davis, and the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).



The center is supported by a multi-year, $6.5 million grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, a division of the National Institutes of Health.



Nutritional genomics, or "nutrigenomics," is the study of how different foods can interact with particular genes to increase the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease and some cancers.



Many of these diseases are especially common among minority populations. For example, African American men have a 60 percent higher risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer than Caucasian men do. Half of all adult Pima Indians in the United States have type 2 diabetes, compared to 6.5 percent of adult Americans of Caucasian descent. Genetic, diet, economic and social conditions, culture and behavior may all contribute to these disparities.



"The research we'll be doing in the Nutrigenomics Center is one of the first examples of taking the benefits of human genome research from the lab to the home," said Ray Rodriguez, professor of molecular and cellular biology at UC Davis and director of the new center.



Noted Bertram Lubin, director of medical research at CHORI and deputy director of the new center, "Just as our work on sickle cell disease in African Americans has broadened our understanding of blood disorders, I believe that focusing our efforts on minority populations with significant health disparities will give us the answers to better health for all Americans."



"This new initiative illustrates the power of bringing together a diverse group of experts to collaborate on a common goal," said Phyllis Wise, dean of the UC Davis Division of Biological Sciences.



Diet can be a serious risk factor for a number of diseases, Rodriguez said. But in an individual, the exact effect of different components of food may depend on that person's genetic makeup.



"It's not a question of your genes being good or bad, but rather how they interact with your environment," Rodriguez said.



For example, a single letter change in DNA in people living in Scandinavia 10,000 years ago allows most Caucasian adults today to drink milk without getting sick due to lactose intolerance.



The center will seek to identify genes controlled by naturally occurring chemicals in food and study how some of these genes can tip the balance between health and disease, Rodriguez said. "Nutritional genomics will enable individuals to better manage their health and well-being by precisely matching their diets to their unique genetic makeup."



The director of the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities (NCMHD), John Ruffin, said, "Programs like the Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics lay the foundation for our nation's future efforts to eliminate the health disparities that plague so many populations within our country."



The nutrigenomics center will include researchers from UC Davis; Children's Hospital and Research Center at Oakland; Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute; and the Western Human Nutrition Research Center of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service. The Western Human Nutrition Research Center is located at UC Davis.



More information: http://nutrigenomics.ucdavis.edu/


Media contact(s):

Raymond Rodriguez, UC Davis Section of Molecular and Cellular Biology, 530.752.3263

Bertram Lubin, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute, 510.450.7601

Vanya Rainova, Children's Hospital and Research Center at Oakland, Communicatio, 510.428.3367

Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, 530.752.4533



2006

Global Initiative in Nutritional Genomics

February 24, 2006


A consortium of 88 researchers from the U.S. and around the world, including 12 UC Davis scientists, is calling for an international effort to study how diets and genetics interact in health and disease. Stimulating collaboration in nutritional genomics, or "nutrigenomics," could increase global health and wellness and reduce health disparities in both developed and developing countries, they write in an article in a recent issue of the British Journal of Nutrition.



"We want to link up researchers in the U.S. with our friends in Europe and the Pacific Rim. Nutrigenomics is a multidisciplinary science, and the chances of finding all the skills you need in one lab are nil. We really need to come together as an international team," said Ray Rodriguez, professor of molecular and cellular biology and director of the Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis.



Nutrigenomics aims to work out the relationships between diet, genetics and disease. Diet is known to influence chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. But these links are not always clear, and individuals respond in different ways to changes in diet. Some ethnic groups show exceptionally high rates of chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes.



An early priority for international collaboration is to set up a nutritional genomics databank where researchers worldwide can file their results, Rodriguez said. Scientists could look for new patterns by sifting through the collected mass of data.



"I believe the solutions to many of our current health problems already exist scattered around the world in different databases. If we could mine them successfully, we might be able to find cures to some of these diseases," Rodriguez said. UC Davis is contributing to the integration of these databases, he said.



The initiative grew out of the Bruce Ames International Symposium on Nutritional Genomics, held at UC Davis in October 2004. The Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis is supported by a grant from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, a part of the National Institutes of Health.




Additional information:
Center of Excellence for Nutritional Genomics


Media contact(s):
- Ray Rodriguez, Molecular and Cellular Biology, 530.752.3263
- Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, 530.752.4533
- Pat Bailey, UC Davis News Service, 530.752.9843