Suna Onengut-Gumuscu, PhD, Awarded $4.4 Million to Study How Genes Affect Risk of Type 1 Diabetes in Children

February 21, 2024 by

Suna Onengut-Gumuscu UVA

Suna Onengut-Gumuscu, PhD

Suna Onengut-Gumuscu, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences and resident faculty of the Center for Public Health Genomics, was awarded a $4.4 million R01 grant for a project titled “Identifying cell-type specific genetic control of T1D risk variants in TEDDY.”

Type 1 diabetes is a complex disorder that arises from the action of multiple genetic and environmental risk factors, with population cumulative risk approaching 1 in 300 children. The disease process for type 1 diabetes involves the immune system attacking insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas, which can result in damage and loss of these cells over time.

Dr. Onengut-Gumuscu’s study will use samples from the Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young (TEDDY) study, which examines environmental causes of type 1 diabetes in genetically high-risk children. The research team will utilize advanced technologies, such as sequencing at the single cell level, to track changes in immune activity at a very detailed level, aiming to understand how genes contribute to the risk of type 1 diabetes in TEDDY children.

The outcome of these studies will help determine the specific contribution of genetic variants related to type 1 diabetes in the onset and advancement of islet autoimmunity. Moreover, these studies will identify biomarkers that can predict the stage of the disease, which will aid in the development of risk prediction models.

Collaborators on the project include Stephen Rich, PhD, Aakrosh Ratan, PhD, Mete Civelek, PhD, and Wei-Min Chen, PhD, from UVA School of Medicine and Hemang Parikhm, PhD, from the University of South Florida.

Filed Under: Research