New faculty: Amy Non links health disparities to genetics and environment

Posted in Articles, Health/Medicine/Genetics, Media Archive, United States on 2013-10-15 02:04Z by Steven

New faculty: Amy Non links health disparities to genetics and environment

Research News @ Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Liz Entman, (615) 322-NEWS

For decades, researchers have struggled to identify the root causes behind racial disparities in health. Amy Non, assistant professor of anthropology, takes a multidisciplinary approach.

A molecular anthropologist specializing in epigenetics, the study of how environment and behavior affect the expression of genes, her work integrates genetics, anthropology and public health.

For example, why are African Americans at greater risk for many chronic diseases? “We don’t really know what’s causing it—whether it’s their genetic ancestry or whether it’s something about their social or cultural environment,” Non said. She has found no evidence that African genetic ancestry plays a role and is now trying to identify psychosocial mechanisms—such as stress—that may contribute to these disparities.

Stress triggers a release of hormones that can lead to inflammation or dysregulation of other biological processes, she said. Prolonged exposure to stress can permanently interfere with the genes that regulate these hormones, which can have long-term consequences on a person’s health.

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , ,