Friday, July 22, 2011

UCLA life scientists and colleagues have produced one of the first high-resolution genetic maps for African American populations

UCLA life scientists and colleagues have produced one of the first high-resolution genetic maps for African American populations. A genetic map reveals the precise locations across the genome where DNA from a person's father and mother have been stitched together through a biological process called "recombination." This process results in new genetic combinations that are then passed on to the person's children.

The new map will help disease geneticists working to map genetic diseases in African Americans because it provides a more accurate understanding of recombination rates among that population, said the senior author of the research, John Novembre, a UCLA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and of bioinformatics. The map could help scientists learn the roots of these diseases and discover genes that play a key role in them.

The study was published July 20 in the online version of the journal Nature Genetics and will be published in the print edition at a later date.

"Research aimed at finding disease variants will be improved by this tool, which could lead to better medications to help ameliorate the effects of those disease variants," Novembre said. "Health researchers can use a recombination map to refine where a disease gene might be."

John Novembre

John Novembre (Credit: Reed Hutchinson/UCLA)
Prior to this research, which was conducted by scientists from seven institutions, recombination had mainly been studied in European populations.

"Now we have a map for African Americans that researchers can use as a tool, instead of using a European map or an African map," said Novembre, a member of UCLA's Interdepartmental Program in Bioinformatics.

A second, independent study, led by David Reich at Harvard University and Simon Myers at Oxford University, used a similar approach to infer an African American recombination map. That research was published this week in Nature.

"While recombination rates between populations are very similar when you look at the broadest scales of the genome, we start to see variation in recombination between populations when we zoom in," said Daniel Wegmann, a UCLA postdoctoral scholar in Novembre's laboratory and the lead author of the study. "There are clear differences in recombination between Africans and Europeans, and African Americans tend to have a map that is a mixture between the African and European map, reflecting the mixture that took place between these two groups.

"If the position of a mutation is unknown and you want to pinpoint a gene linked to a disease, then recombination is important to help reveal in what region the gene lies," Wegmann said.

The mixture of African and European ancestry typical in the DNA of African Americans is reflected in recombination rates, Novembre said.

"No high-resolution recombination map has been inferred before for populations where the individuals have ancestry from different parts of the globe," Novembre said. "African Americans represent a unique combination of African and European ancestry. We found that if you know an African recombination rate for one region of the genome and you know the European rate, the African American rate sits about 80 percent of the way between the two. That is interesting, because the ancestry of African American DNA, on average, is 80 percent from African ancestral sources and 20 percent from European ancestral sources. The recombination rate reflects the ancestry."

The life scientists used an innovative method involving population genetic models in which they scanned the individual genomes of 2,565 African Americans, as well as 299 African Caribbeans, to study where in the genome each had African ancestry, where they had European ancestry, and where the "switch points" were that mark the location where the ancestry of a DNA segment changes.

Novembre and colleagues studied the ancestry of DNA segments to reconstruct where recombinations have occurred.

"The key is to uncover the ancestry of each segment of the genome," Novembre said. "Switch points enable us to identify recombination 'hot spots,' where recombination rates are high."

Explaining recombination, Novembre said, "When we pass on DNA to our children, we stitch together the DNA we received from our mother and father. The resulting DNA alternates between DNA from your mother and from your father, and the recombination points are the boundaries. Those points could be chosen uniformly across the whole chromosome, but studies have found that recombinations occur in some locations in the chromosome more than in others. Locations in the chromosome have particular recombination rates — the rate at which break points occur in that location.

"It is difficult to identify, by studying chromosomes directly, where the stitch points are between maternal and paternal DNA," he said. "In individuals of mixed ancestry, however, such as African Americans and African Caribbeans, we can identify switch points between African ancestry and European ancestry. These switch points mark locations where recombinations have occurred at some point in the past."

"There are regions of our map that differ from what we would expect," Wegmann said. "We see locations where there are deficiencies in recombination, and they line up with the locations of mutations that rearrange the genome and flip a piece of DNA to invert it. When you have a normal copy of the DNA and an inverted copy of the DNA, one from your mother and one from your father, this inversion suppresses recombination."

Of some 3 billion base pairs in a person's genome, the scientists were able to resolve recombination rates down to 50,000 base pairs of the DNA — an impressive figure.

Comparing this African American recombination map with that of other populations enables researchers to locate recombination hot spots, which have highly elevated rates of recombination.

In addition to the applications for disease mapping, the research provides broad insights into the fundamental biological process of recombination.

"We want to learn how recombination rates vary across the genome," Novembre said.

Nelson Freimer, director of the UCLA Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics and a professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA, is a principal investigator on the research, along with Novembre and Wegmann, and helped to organize the collaborative effort to bring together the large sample used in the study.

The effort was made possible by the cooperation of investigators from five large consortia: the Genetic Study of Atheroscleoris Risk (GeneSTAR) consortium; the Genetic Network of Arteriopathy (GENOA) consortium; the Chicago Asthma Genetics (CAG) and the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Asthma (CSGA) consortia; the Genetic Research on Asthma in the Africa Diaspora (GRAAD) consortium; and the Severe Asthma Research Program (SAARP).

The consortia were funded by the STAMPEED (SNP Typing for Association with Multiple Phenotypes from Existing Epidemiological Data) program run by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health. Novembre's research was also funded by the Searle Foundation.

UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of more than 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer 328 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Six alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.

Media Contacts Stuart Wolpert, 310-206-0511

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Professor N W Harllee A. M., A. B

The subject of this sketch was born a siave in Robeson county, near Lumberton. North Carolina, July 15th, 1852. His father was a Methodist preacher who exhorted the plantation slaves, and was noted as "a natural mathematician." His mother was deeply religious.

Mr. Harllee is a self-made man, for he taught himself to read and write after being taught to spell about a third through Webster's blue-back spelling book, and with this small beginning he laid the foundation for a collegiate education and for the active work of life.

In 1881 he was elected register of deeds in Richmond county, N. C, where he had taught school for a number of years, and in 1882 was appointed United States postal clerk on the Carolina Central Railway and transferred to Charlotte, Columbia and Augusta Railway, which position he held till 1885. In 1879 he was graduated at the Biddle University, Charlotte, N. C, with honors. In 1885 he went to Texas and engaged in the profession of teaching, and served for a number of years as principal of the Grammar School No. 2 of Dallas, Texas. Afterward he was promoted to the principalship of the Colored High School of the Dallas City Public Schools, which position he now holds.

Professor Harllee has taken an active part in the educational work of his state, and has served as president and secretary of the Teachers' State Association of the state of Texas; he has also held the position of Superintendent of the Colored Department of the Texas State Fair for eight years, and still holds that position. He is a practical staff reporter on the Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Tex.

Mr. Harllee was married to Miss Florence Belle Coleman of Dallas, Tex., 1891, and has three children, Lucretia, Chauncey Depew and Norman W., Jr.

Professor  N W Harllee A. M., A. BHe is author of "Harllee's Tree of History," a new and graphic method of teaching history; also Harllee's "Simplified Long Division," a new graphic method of teaching long division; also Harllee's "Diagram System of Geography."

He has for a number of years advocated the establishment of a State University for the youth of Texas, and is also working with the Rev. W. Lomas and D. Rowens to establish an industrial school for his people at Dallas.

He is also chairman of the Y. M. C. A. board of education of Dallas, and along with Messrs. Rice, Darrell, Polk. Weems and Anderson is conducting a successful Y. M. C. A. night school for all ages and sexes.

Twentieth century Negro literature: or, A cyclopedia of thought on the vital topics relating to the American Negro

Title: Twentieth century Negro literature: or, A cyclopedia of thought on the vital topics relating to the American Negro. Editor: Daniel Wallace Culp. Publisher: J. L. Nichols & co., 1902. Original from: the University of Michigan. Digitized: Sep 17, 2008. Length: 472 pages. Subjects: African American authors African Americans Afro-Americans.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gov. Rick Snyder today announced appointments made Freedom Trail Commission

LANSING, Mich. - Gov. Rick Snyder today announced that Ronald Brown is appointed and Juanita Moore and Veta Tucker are reappointed to the Michigan Freedom Trial Commission.

The board was created to preserve, protect and promote the legacy of the Freedom Trail in Michigan.

"These individuals will use their unique backgrounds and expertise to support and preserve a rich part of Michigan's history," Snyder said.

Brown, of Ypsilanti, is an associate professor at Wayne State University where he teaches classes in African American politics, politics and elections and public opinion. In 1994 he was awarded the Probus Club Academic Achievement Award for Social Sciences and Humanities. He has authored several publications on African American politics. Brown earned a bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University and a doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan. He represents members at large and replaces Rochelle Danquah.

Moore, of Detroit, is president and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the largest museum of its kind in the nation. She previously served as executive director of both the American Jazz Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum. She earned both a bachelor's and master's degree from North Carolina Central University. Moore represents the Museum of African American History.

Rick SnyderTucker, of Kentwood, is associate professor of English and African American studies at Grand Valley State University. She also serves as the director of the Kutsche Office of Local History at GVSU. Tucker earned a doctorate in English language and literature from the University of Michigan. She represents the academic community knowledgeable in African American history.

Appointees will serve four-year terms expiring Feb. 1, 2015, and are not subject to the advice and consent of the Senate.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Friday, July 15, 2011 Contact: Sara Wurfel P: 517-335-6397 or E:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The first African-American to walk in space returns to the NJIT campus on July 19, 2011

The first African-American to walk in space returns to the NJIT campus on July 19, 2011 to inspire 55 middle-school students from throughout New Jersey (47) and New York City (8) to seek a career in science. The event will launch the free, two-week ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp (EMBHSSC) for middle-school students. Bernard Harris, MD, of Houston, veteran of two space shuttle missions and founder of the camp, will assist students in a hands-on activity led by the EMBHSSC staff and representatives from ExxonMobil Corporation, Clinton.

Teachers are calling this year’s activity the space suit challenge. Students will investigate how an object’s kinetic energy affects the impact it has upon a surface. Students will work in teams to make and test a durable space suit sample capable of withstanding the impact of micrometeoroids.

ATTENTION EDITORS: Don’t miss Harris. He’s a great champion of science education and an inspiration. He’ll teach the class at approximately 10:30 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., he will address students. NJIT is the only college campus in the New York metropolitan region to offer the program.

See students happily participating in a fun and exciting science adventure, and who are excited to learn more about science careers from ExxonMobil engineers and scientists. The piece de resistance is always Harris, who, following lunch, speaks from the heart for 30 minutes about how he became interested in science and why students should too.

Bernard Harris, MDThe program is based on studies showing that the US faces a critical shortage of engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers. To help address this crisis, Harris and ExxonMobil provide 30 free two-week summer camps across the country. The camps offer innovative math and science programs to encourage middle-school students to develop their knowledge and foster their interest in engineering and other areas in science.

New Jersey students are from: Bayonne, Belvidere, Bergenfield, Butler, Camden, Carteret, Cranford, East Orange, Englewood, Fair Lawn, Forked River, Fort Lee, Great Meadows, Harrison, Haskell, Hoboken, Jersey City, Kearny, Lodi, Mercerville, Metuchen, Montclair, Newark, North Bergen, Old Bridge, Orange, Pemberton, Piscataway, Plainfield, Point Pleasant, Princeton, Somerset, Teaneck, West Orange and Willingboro.

New York students are from: Brooklyn, Forest Hills, Hollis and Manhattan.

NJIT, New Jersey's science and technology university, enrolls more than 8,900 students pursuing bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 121 programs. The university consists of six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, College of Architecture and Design, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, College of Computing Sciences and Albert Dorman Honors College. U.S. News & World Report's 2010 Annual Guide to America's Best Colleges ranked NJIT in the top tier of national research universities. NJIT is internationally recognized for being at the edge in knowledge in architecture, applied mathematics, wireless communications and networking, solar physics, advanced engineered particulate materials, nanotechnology, neural engineering and e-learning. Many courses and certificate programs, as well as graduate degrees, are available online through the Office of Continuing Professional Education.

Contact Information: Sheryl Weinstein Public Relations 973-596-3436

Friday, July 8, 2011

“Binding Wounds Pushing Boundaries” Highlights Medical Contributions of African Americans as Nurses, Surgeons and Hospital Workers

Brooklyn, NY - Coney Island Hospital today opened a historical exhibition in observance of the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War which highlights the untold history of medical contributions made by African Americans during the war. The traveling exhibition, developed and produced by the Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine, tells the unique story via archival images and historical documents from the period.

According to the National Library of Medicine, many histories have been written about medical care during the American Civil War, but the participation and contributions of African Americans as nurses, surgeons and hospital workers has often been overlooked. Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries: African Americans in Civil War Medicine looks at the men and women who served as surgeons and nurses and how their service as medical providers challenged the prescribed notions of race and gender pushing the boundaries of the role of African Americans in America.

The exhibit explores the life and experiences of surgeons Alexander T. Augusta and Anderson R. Abbott, and nurses Susie King Taylor and Ann Stokes as they provided medical care to soldiers and civilians while participating in the fight for freedom. “Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries opens the door to this rarely studied part of history and brings a voice to those that have remained silent for nearly 150 years,” says Curator Jill L. Newmark.

African Americans as Nurses, Surgeons and Hospital WorkersThe four year civil war claimed the lives of approximately 620,000 out of the three million who fought, and countless others received severe debilitating injuries. The 150th Anniversary observation serves to remind us all of what was at stake: the preservation of the fledgling union and the resultant freedom of millions of men and women enslaved by the Confederate states.

“Hosting this national exhibition is the hospital’s way of observing the anniversary of the beginning of our country’s civil war and more importantly, paying tribute to the little known but significant contributions made by African Americans towards preservation of the union, and in the areas of medicine and human rights,” said Arthur Wagner, Senior Vice President / Executive Director of Coney Island Hospital.

“Binding Wounds, Pushing Boundaries” will be on display now through August 3, 2011. The exhibit is located in the gallery space on the 2nd floor of Main Hospital Building and is open to the public Monday through Friday, from 9:00 AM – 5:00PM.

About Coney Island Hospital

From its early beginnings in 1875 as a first-aid station for summer beach goers, Coney Island Hospital has grown into a multi-site community medical center with more than 350 beds. Part of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC), Coney is a designated Stroke Center and provides over 267,000 clinic visits and 70,000 Emergency Room visits to the communities of southern Brooklyn. For more information about Coney, visit

About HHC

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) is a $6.7 billion integrated health care delivery system with its own 385,000 member health plan, MetroPlus, and is the largest municipal health care organization in the country. HHC serves 1.3 million New Yorkers every year and more than 450,000 are uninsured. HHC provides medical, mental health and substance abuse services through its 11 acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six large diagnostic and treatment centers and more than 80 community based clinics. HHC Health and Home Care also provides in-home services for New Yorkers. HHC was the 2008 recipient of the National Quality Forum and The Joint Commissions John M. Eisenberg Award for Innovation in Patient Safety and Quality. For more information, visit, # # # FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE July 6, 2011

Monday, July 4, 2011

CT Angiography Improves Detection of Heart Disease in African Americans

OAK BROOK, Ill. — Researchers may have discovered one reason that African Americans are at increased risk for heart attacks and other cardiovascular events.

According to a new study published online in the journal Radiology, African Americans have increased levels of non-calcified plaque, which consists of buildups of soft deposits deep in the walls of the arteries that are not detected by some cardiac tests. Non-calcified plaque is more vulnerable to rupturing and causing a blood clot, which could lead to a heart attack or other cardiovascular event.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, African American adults are more likely to be diagnosed with coronary heart disease and are at greater risk of death from heart disease than white adults. In 2007, African American men were 30 percent more likely than non-Hispanic white men to die from heart disease.

"For a long time, physicians have searched for explanations as to why African Americans have higher rates of heart disease and higher cardiac death rates, but less coronary artery calcium than Caucasians," said U. Joseph Schoepf, M.D., professor of radiology and medicine and director of cardiovascular imaging at Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. "We show that one possible explanation for the discrepancy may be found in the higher rate of less stable, non-calcified plaque in the heart vessels of African Americans."

U. Joseph Schoepf, M.D.

U. Joseph Schoepf, M.D.
Calcium scoring with CT is a common screening tool for patients at risk for cardiovascular disease, because increased levels of calcified plaque in the coronary arteries generally correlates with a greater risk of heart attack or other cardiovascular event. However, calcium scoring does not detect non-calcified plaque.

For the study, researchers compared 301 patients who underwent both calcium scoring with CT and contrast-enhanced coronary CT angiography (cCTA). cCTA provides a more comprehensive picture of the arteries, including the presence of non-calcified and mixed plaques.

The study group comprised 50 percent each of African American and white patients, 33 percent of whom were male (mean age 55).

Calcium scoring revealed that calcified plaque was much more prevalent in the coronary arteries of white patients than in the African Americans (45 percent, versus 26 percent). The cCTA revealed that, compared with the white patients, many more African American patients had non-calcified plaque (64 percent, versus 41 percent), and in greater amounts. The median volume of non-calcified plaque among the African American patients was 2.2 milliliters (mL), compared with 1.4 mL among white patients.

Based on these results, the researchers suggest that the value of calcium scoring as a screening tool for African Americans should be reexamined.

"The results of coronary artery calcium scoring studies are to be treated with caution in African Americans, because they may not reflect the true extent of cardiovascular disease," Dr. Schoepf said.

While cCTA does expose patients to ionizing radiation, according to Dr. Schoepf, the effective dose of this procedure has been considerably reduced over the past few years, making it a viable screening option, if other prerequisites of a successful screening test are also met.

"For African American patients, coronary CT angiography may be a more appropriate screening tool for cardiovascular risk," he said.

# # #

"Coronary Atherosclerosis in African American and White Patients with Acute Chest Pain: Characterization with Coronary CT Angiography." Collaborating with Dr. Schoepf were John W. Nance Jr., M.D., Fabian Bamberg, M.D., M.P.H., Doo Kyoung Kang, M.D., J. Michael Barraza, Jr., B.S., Joseph A. Abro, M.A., Gorka Bastarrika, M.D., Ph.D., Gary F. Headden, M.D., Philip Costello, M.D., and Christian Thilo, M.D.

is edited by Herbert Y. Kressel, M.D., Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass., and owned and published by the Radiological Society of North America, Inc. (

RSNA is an association of more than 46,000 radiologists, radiation oncologists, medical physicists and related scientists committed to excellence in patient care through education and research. The Society is based in Oak Brook, Ill. (

For patient-friendly information on CT angiography, visit

Media Contacts: RSNA Media Relations: 1-630-590-7762 Linda Brooks 1-630-590-7738 Maureen Morley 1-630-590-7754

Saturday, July 2, 2011

African-American women are more likely to have a basal-like subtype of breast cancer

DETROIT - Wayne State University researchers believe medical practitioners can help reduce the number of breast cancer deaths among low-income African-American women by more effectively educating their patients about the importance of mammography screening.

In a study published in the June issue of the Journal of Cancer Education, Rosalie Young, Ph.D., associate professor; Kendra Schwartz, M.D., M.S.P.H., interim chair; and Jason Booza, Ph. D., assistant professor, all from the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health Sciences in WSU's School of Medicine, examined clinical, structural and personal barriers known to prevent such women from having mammograms. Overcoming those barriers is important, the researchers said, because of higher mortality rates for African-American women than other groups. In 2007, Detroit statistics showed a rate of approximately 35 deaths per 100,000 among African-American women versus about 26 deaths per 100,000 for white women.

Between 2004 and 2007, WSU researchers randomly surveyed 178 African-American women age 40 or older from a high cancer-risk area of Detroit. They found that all three barrier types were strongly associated with a lack of breast cancer screening.

Kendra Schwartz, M.D.

Kendra Schwartz, M.D.

Rosalie Young, Ph.D.

Rosalie Young, Ph.D.

Jason Booza, Ph.D.

Jason Booza, Ph.D.
Young said, however, that interventions to increase mammography utilization often focus on structural barriers, which include lack of health insurance or lack of medical care facilities in low-income areas. Removing those barriers is difficult, she said, because it requires systemic change.

The study brings good news, however, by showing that medical care providers are capable of removing some clinical and personal barriers. Young said the WSU study also could serve as a springboard for future analyses of particular barrier combinations to determine which ones predict whether women will undergo mammograms.

One clinical barrier is that fewer board-certified physicians work in lower-income areas. Providers in those areas often are less informed about preventive care or less likely to adhere to cancer screening recommendations. Additionally, time constraints may limit patient education efforts, leading to inadequate recommendations for screening, and physician-patient interaction may be culturally or educationally inappropriate for lower-income or minority populations.

To help break down those barriers, along with personal barriers such as patients' fear, or their lack of trust or knowledge, Young said clinicians could be more proactive in communicating with patients to build trust. They also can offer more culturally appropriate health education that includes general information about disease risk and the importance of breast cancer screening, as well as more education about patients' personal breast cancer risk, such as genetic information and specific family history risk.

Clinicians also can make referrals specifically for mammograms, Young said, as African-Americans often expect them to initiate such conversations.

"The physician-patient interaction is extremely important," she said. "Physicians are not only gatekeepers to services; they also can motivate their patients."

Part of what may be hindering such interaction now, Young said, is that practitioners in facilities serving low-income people may be under too much pressure simply to see patients.

"There may be a desire on the part of the physician to be more involved with their patients in terms of educating and communicating with them," she said, "but the constraints of their situation may be limiting their ability to do that."

Still, more proactive practitioners can make a real difference. "African-American women are more likely to have a basal-like subtype of breast cancer that is harder to treat and should be detected early," said Young. "Health providers have an excellent opportunity to reduce mortality by emphasizing the importance of screening."


Release Date: July 01, 2011 Contact: Tom Tigani Voice: 313-577-1494 E-mail: