Donata Vercelli, MD the Co-Director of the CDC and a senior NHLBI-, NIAID-funded investigator, is herself a beneficiary of the existing multi-disciplinary, collaborative culture the CDC seeks to formalize and further extend. Dr. Vercelli’s interest in the early origins of human asthma and epigenetic predictors of this disease stemmed from studies funded through a SWEHSC Pilot Project (2007).
That project funded the collaboration between Dr. Vercelli and the Genomics Facility directed by Dr. Futscher, and generated preliminary data demonstrating that it is possible to identify patterns of global DNA methylation in the newborn that relate to a prenatal asthma-protective exposure (in this case, to a farming environment). Advice provided by Dr. Futscher and analysts of the Genomics Facility Core was critical for the interpretation of the complex data sets generated by genome-wide epigenetic scans. These data formed the cornerstone of Dr. Vercelli’s application for an RC1 Challenge grant (April 2009, RC1HL100800, Epigenetic Predicators of Asthma in Neonates), which was funded in September 2009. In addition Dr. Vercelli’s research was further integrated and benefited from the Proteomics technology developed within the SWEHSC and through collaboration with Dr. Lau, which attracted another RC1 Challenge grant (see description under