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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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National study looks at genetics of COPD

December 18, 2007

HOUSTON - (Dec. 18, 2007) – Baylor College of Medicine and the Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center (MEDVAMC) have been selected to take part in a multi-institutional study to identify genes and other risk factors that influence the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The $37 million National Heart Lung and Blood Institute grant is led by the National Jewish Medical and Research Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
COPD, the fourth leading cause of death in the United States affects 24 million Americans and 20 to 30 percent of smokers.  The term refers to lung diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis that damage lung tissue and make it difficult to breathe.  Because the disease does not occur in all smokers, the study will attempt to determine genetic factors that may play a part.
“This significant disease has been ignored for many years,” said Dr. Nick Hanania, principal investigator of BCM’s study and an associate professor of medicine and director of the asthma clinical research center at BCM.  “This will allow us to determine the genetic predisposition to COPD as well as learn more about the presentation of the disease.”

Dr. Amir Sharafkhaneh, assistant professor of medicine-pulmonary and director of the Sleep Fellowship Program at BCM and director of the Sleep Center at the MEDVAMC, will serve as principal investigator of the study at the VA Medical Center.

“This is the largest study to look at the genetics of COPD,” said Sharafkhaneh.
The national study will recruit 10,500 participants, 3,500 of whom will be African American, a population whose COPD rates are rapidly growing and whose risk factors have not been adequately studied.  The only other study site in Texas is University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio.
A team from Johns Hopkins University, the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), Brigham and Women's Hospital, and the University of Colorado will provide statistical analysis.

The institute is promoting better awareness of COPD. For more information, visit *

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