GENE 595H - Problems in the Biology of Complex Diseases

Complex diseases (CDs: e.g., asthma, allergy, COPD, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia) are the next major challenge in human biology because they are at the same time unique, common and difficult to decipher. The complexity of CDs lies in their pathogenesis, in which a constellation of environmental and genetic factors interact in intricate ways to alter biological thresholds and response patterns, modifying disease susceptibility. Since both genes and environmental exposures contribute to CDs, the biological pathways involved in CD pathogenesis depend on the genetic background of a given population and the specific environment to which that population is exposed. Hence, asthma, obesity and hypertension in Arizona may not be the same as asthma, obesity and hypertension in Iceland.
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