“Omics” refers to the collective technologies used to explore the roles, relationships, and actions of the various types of molecules that are expressed in the cells of an organism as a result of physiological processes. The variability in physiological processes, related to differences in an individual’s background, genes, environment, and lifestyle, is the basis for why some patients respond to particular treatments well, and others do not. Thus, careful characterization of these products of expression is critical to develop personalized, targeted therapies to boost efficacy, improve health, lessen adverse exposures, and reduce health care costs. This study ranges from detecting genetic mutations, to examining the role of gene expression in response to the environment, to measuring protein and metabolite production, to advancing patient-based research through precision medicine. Effort is needed in the development of increasingly sensitive equipment, along with more sophisticated measurement and analysis techniques, and subsequent correlation to clinical outcomes.
BIO5 will leverage UA’s strengths in genomics, biochemistry, pharmacy, and translational medicine to build collaboration in the characterization of the products of gene expression, including: proteins (proteomics), lipids/fats (lipidomics) and their metabolic products (metabolomics) – all important and accessible indicators of human health at the various levels of biological processes. One example area of development is clinical pharmacogenomics, where UA researchers are translating genomic analyses to clinical diagnostics that guide precision therapeutics, particularly in cancer. Other teams are leveraging the diversity of Arizona to understand the biological characteristics that are more common among individuals of various racial/ethnic groups to tailor individual diagnostics and therapeutics to improve efficiency. The UA is well positioned through basic and clinical research in precision medicine to develop strategies that advance understanding of the factors contributing to individual health, disease, and personalized approaches to disease prevention, early detection, and treatment.
Dr. Michael Hammer’s research is dedicated to the study of the evolutionary processes that shape natural variation in humans, as well as investigation of the pathogenic nature of genetic variation and how it is involved in causing childhood diseases. Mutation is one of the creative forces of evolution, and without it species would not evolve. While rare beneficial mutations can lead to adaptive change and the diversification of life, inevitably some members of our population will bear the brunt of deleterious mutation, and may never have the privilege of reproducing or even surviving to adulthood. Dr. Hammer’s professional and personal experiences have endowed him with a passion to translate discoveries in the lab to the clinic, and to help children and their families who suffer from early childhood disorders.