Are you susceptible to RA? It may be in your genes…
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is caused by a complex set of environmental and genetic factors. Currently, only a small number of the genes that increase a person’s risk of developing RA have been identified. Discovering additional genes that control RA would help us understand what causes the disease and how to more effectively treat or even prevent arthritis.
Dr. Johnsen will use a unique group of mice to help find the genes controlling inflammatory arthritis. Once she treats the mice so that they develop arthritis, Dr. Johnsen can then correlate the presence of a particular DNA sequence at a specific location on the genome with the severity of the arthritis. This will identify the location of the genes that are controlling arthritis in these animals. Given the similarity of the mouse model with human RA, it is likely that these genes also play a significant role in the human disease. Finding genes controlling susceptibility to RA will enhance our understanding of how the disease works and will potentially identify new targets for pharmaceutical development.
Dr. Johnsen has been named the first John Vaughan Scholar, in honor of her excellence in rheumatoid arthritis research. Dr. Vaughan was an ANRF grant recipient in the 1970s, past president of the American College of Rheumatology, and world-renowned researcher, clinician and professor. We mourn his passing in 2006.