Google has given $500,000 toward a Vanderbilt University Medical Center-led study on how COVID-19 alters an individual’s genes.
Working in conjunction with the University of North Carolina, Vanderbilt researchers will analyze blood samples collected during the past 16 years from more than 4,000 participants in the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort, a data mine of health and specimen archives of Mexican-American residents in an area of the United States with the highest rates of COVID-19.
Using that data and artificial intelligence, researchers will scan genomes for changes in gene expression that may be due to COVID-19 and that are associated with severe illness, according to a press release.
“We really don’t fully understand the mechanism by which COVID-19 is able to wreak so much havoc on so many different systems within the body,” said the project’s co-principal investigator, Jennifer Below, associate professor of medicine at VUMC. “If we could identify which molecular pathways are being perturbed by the infection, that would give us a window into developing targeted therapeutics and pharmaceuticals that could potentially (prevent) … such negative consequences,”
The goals are to obtain RNA samples and health assessments from 250 cohort participants who have been infected by SARS-CoV-2 and from 250 uninfected controls and to complete the study within a year.
Brentwood dermatology network buys Belle Meade practice
Local dermatology company QualDerm Partners has added a Belle Meade clinic to its network of physician-owned practices.
SkinMD, founded by Ellen Jacobson, is the third practice in the state that has been purchased by the Brentwood-based QualDerm and is the company’s 45th location. QualDerm’s other markets include the Carolinas, Virginia, Ohio, Georgia and Pennsylvania.
“Over the years, my staff and I have worked hard to build a practice that patients can trust to give them high-quality dermatology care and an outstanding experience,” Jacobson said in a press release. “We’re excited to partner with QualDerm. Their commitment to quality and physician autonomy allows us to keep our practice’s culture intact while enabling us to grow and expand our services.”
QualDerm provides management support, guidance and capital for service expansion and growth to its member clinics.