New UMHS-PUHSC JI research projects announced

Eight new research projects have been selected for the most recent round of funding through the University of Michigan Health System's Joint Institute partnership with Peking University Health Science Center (PUHSC).

The projects, each headed by a UMMS faculty member and their PUHSC partner, span a number of areas, from HIV and substance abuse treatment, to epilepsy and aortic aneurysms. Congratulations to the following grant recipients.

Learn more about these and other Joint Institute research at the upcoming JI Symposium, being held in Ann Arbor Oct. 12-14.


Shared and disease-specific genetic study among IgA nephropathy, henoch-schonlein purpara nephritis, and Iupus nephritis

Celine Berthier, PhD, Assistant Research Scientist, Internal Medicine, UMMS

The team plans to build and validate a fine mapping of the genetic variant regions associated with IgAN, LN, HSPN, three types of glomerulonephritis prevalent in both China and the US. Their pilot will help customize patient care with disease- and patient-specific therapies that are less toxic.


Building collaborations to address drug problems in the United States and China

Frederic Blow, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry, UMMS

The award will foster collaborations between top addiction researchers at U-M and PKU, starting with examinations of effective chronic pain treatment among patients diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.


Identification of shared and specific marker panels for diabetic kidney disease progression

Frank Brosius III, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, UMMS

Building on a successful 2013-15 JI study that identified a biomarker predictive of chronic kidney disease, the partners’ new project continues to explore biomarkers that could aid in the early diagnosis of chronic and diabetic kidney diseases.


Understanding the role of potassium channel gene mutations in pediatric epilepsy

Lori Isom, PhD, Professor of Pharmacology, UMMS

Isom and her partner at PUHSC seek to understand the molecular basis of genetic epilepsy. Working together, they hope to discover novel epilepsy mutations in potassium channel genes in order to provide useful platforms for future drug discovery.


Defining molecular mechanisms and biomarkers for progressive renal end-stage organ damage in vasculitis

Matthias Kretzler, MD, Professor of Internal Medicine, UMMS

Colleagues at PUHSC have accumulated a prospective group of over 500 patients with Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA)-associated vasculitis (AAV), among the largest such cohorts in the world. Meanwhile, Kretzler has generated gene expression profiles from 89 patients with AAV. Integrating this work across continents will provide insight into renal AAV disease pathogenesis.

Image-guided surgery of hepatocellular carcinoma

Thomas Wang, MD, PhD, Professor of Internal Medicine, UMMS

The new project will build upon six years of previous collaborative effort. Wang and his partner will study a peptide that could be useful in precision medicine treatments for certain hepatitis B-derived cancers, offering advantages for improved distribution in solid tumors including deeper penetration, greater extravasation, and faster diffusion.


Multi-ethnic study of genetic risk factors to discover mechanisms of aortic aneurysm and dissection

Cristen J. Willer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine, UMMS

The team aims to identify the underlying genetic causes of aortic aneurysm and dissection in multi-ethnic cohorts using exome sequencing and genome-wide association approaches. This study has the potential to provide paradigm-shifting discoveries for this devastating cardiovascular disease.


Human embryo mosaicism influence on Preimplantation Genetic Screening (PGS), embryo development, and human Embryonic Stem Cell (hESC) development and genetic stability

Gary D. Smith, PhD, Professor of Molecular & Integrative Physiology, UMMS

The top infertility experts at PKU and UM plan to question some common assumptions about pre-implantation genetic screening methods in order to improve infertility treatment and outcomes.