Symposium 2013: The Role of Genetics in Vasculitis: Dr. Sharon Chung

Dr. Sharon Chung will discuss the role of genetics in vasculitis at the 2013 Vasculitis Symposium July 12-14 in Philadelphia. Dr. Chung is Director of the University of California – San Francisco Vasculitis Clinic and the lead investigator on the VF-funded “Exome sequencing in granulomatosis with polyangiitis” study.

Dr. Chung became interested in researching vasculitis while caring for patients with GPA and other vasculitis diseases during her internal medicine residency at Johns Hopkins University. She was fascinated by how these diseases could have so many different manifestations, and how the underlying trigger for these diseases was unknown. That prompted her to study the genetics of the disease, to see if she can identify genes and genetic mutations that predispose individuals to developing GPA in an effort to better understand how the disease develops. Identifying genes that are associated with GPA can reveal biologic pathways that are important in developing this disease, and those pathways may provide novel targets for less toxic treatments and better diagnostic tests.

Dr. Chung will also address the importance of patients participating in research. Genetic research is completely dependent on patients who are willing to participate in genetic studies and provide DNA samples. Dr. Chung said, “When more individuals participate, more powerful studies can be conducted, and thus, we are more likely to identify the genes involved in this disease,” she explains. “Participation in genetic studies is an easy, low-risk way of helping move research forward for these diseases.”

The central goal of Dr. Chung’s research program is to discover genetic and epigenetic factors that influence autoimmune disease susceptibility and its manifestations, in order to identify biologic pathways involved in disease pathogenesis and potential targets for therapeutic intervention. Her research activities in vasculitis include genetic, epigenetic, and transcriptional studies of small vessel vasculitides.

The UCSF Vasculitis Clinic is a member of the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC), and the clinic participates in ongoing VCRC studies.

The 2013 Vasculitis Symposium will be held at the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 12-14.  Click here to learn more.