Sex Differences in Human Aortic Smooth Muscle Cell Phenotypes; Racism and Trust in American Healthcare and Biomedical Research

Anane-Wae, Rita, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Aherrahrou, Redouane, MD-CPHG Ctr for Public Health Genomics, University of Virginia
Civelek, Mete, MD-BIOM Biomedical Eng, University of Virginia

Coronary Artery Disease (CAD) is a substantial contributor to the fatalities accounted for by heart disease and has various environmental, lifestyle, and genetic factors that increase disease risk. Sex differences have previously been investigated as a significant determinant of disease incidence, prevalence, morbidity, and mortality for many diseases. However, sex differences as related to CAD have not yet been investigated. This project utilizes systems genetics and bioinformatics to investigate differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in males and females that are associated with CAD using a unique cohort of human aortic smooth muscle cell (huASMC) RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) datasets. This project additionally investigates the effect of sex on SMC phenotypes including migration, proliferation, and calcification, which contribute to disease development and pathogenesis.

Heart disease disproportionately affects African Americans in the United States. Historically, due to the racism and discrimination present in the American healthcare and biomedical research system, deep-rooted mistrust has developed between the Black American community and the medical system.

In this two-part thesis, I investigate the racial aspects of healthcare and biomedical research as associated with the Black American community in the STS portion, and investigate the sex-specific aspects of CAD through differential gene expression in the technical portion. The investigation in the STS portion of the thesis expands further than CAD and looks at racism as a whole in the United States health system. Additionally, the results of the technical portion of the thesis can aid future research into discovering more specific methods to address CAD to improve the lives of many affected individuals.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
SCOT, Human Genetics, Coronary Artery Disease, Atherosclerosis, RNA-seq, Civelek Lab, Racism, Contemporaty Medical System, African Americans

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Dr. Mete Civelek
Technical Advisor: Dr. Redouane Aherrahrou
STS Advisor: Dr. Tsai-Hsuan Ku
Techical Team Member: Sarah L. Meng

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