The Population Sciences Branch formulates a global view of both the natural history and future trends related to heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, taking advantage of the thousands of participants in the Framingham Heart Study as well as other population cohorts. The Branch takes a comprehensive approach towards an understanding of these disorders, combining classical epidemiology and longitudinal studies with state-of-the-art genetic and -omics technologies. (-Omics refers to the measurable differences or changes in biological molecules, such as genes, metabolites, and proteins.) Through this combined approach, the Branch seeks to identify molecular signatures of disease phenotypes in the population setting. This basic research helps fuel scientific discovery that may one day help advance research related to heart, lung, blood, and sleep conditions or other fields.
The main areas of research interest in the Laboratory for Cardiovascular Epidemiology and Genomics, led by Dr. Daniel Levy, include the epidemiology and genetics of cardiovascular disease, with a focus on coronary disease, hypertension, and heart failure. Dr. Levy aims to merge the robust clinical and longitudinal data available from the Framingham Heart Study with the latest advances in genomic sciences to gain insight into the complex relations between complex cardiovascular traits and the onset of heart disease.
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) has a complex etiology, and CVD patients show a wide range of responses to therapeutic interventions. Research in the Laboratory for Hemostasis and Platelet Biology, led by Dr. Andrew Johnson, focuses on understanding genetic and genomic underpinnings of this individual variability in therapeutically targeted CVD pathways. Specifically, Dr. Johnson’s work focuses on understanding individual variability in platelet development, function, and response to treatment. Medicines that decrease platelet reactivity, such as aspirin, are commonly used to reduce the risks of cardiovascular events such as heart attack. Dr. Johnson is interested in the pharmacogenetics of anti-platelet treatments and resulting CVD outcomes. His laboratory applies population-scale approaches to the problem, including genetic studies, collaboration with clinician-scientists, studies of gene expression variability in human tissues, and bioinformatics and systems biology approaches. His group makes particular use of the Framingham Heart Study and the rich amount of epidemiologic and genetic data it has accumulated over the years. Dr. Johnson is the lead investigator of a large ongoing study with new platelet function data collection in the Framingham Heart Study.