July 10, 1996

Media Contacts: Sarah Goodwin, 404/727-3366 -
Kathi Ovnic, 404/727-9371 -

Support from an American Society of Hypertension (ASH) Hoechst Marion Roussel Clinical Research Fellowship will enable Emory University Department of Medicine resident, Andrew B. Chung, M.D., Ph.D., to take one of the first looks at the role of mitochondrial DNA in the inheritance of high blood pressure (hypertension).

His Emory School of Medicine faculty mentors for this research project are two scientists considered experts in their respective fields. Douglas C. Wallace, Ph.D., chairman of the Department of Genetics and Molecular Medicine, is regarded as an international leader in the study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), genetic information found outside the cell's nucleus and passed on to offspring only by the mother.

W. Dallas Hall, M.D., director of the Division of Hypertension, is internationally known for his clinical investigations of hypertension and is principal investigator of the Emory component of the Women's Health Initiative, the largest women's health study in the United States.

While an internal medicine intern at Emory and under the guidance of Dr. Hall, Dr. Chung conducted a pilot study on the inheritance of essential hypertension in Atlanta-area patients and observed a statistically significant maternal pattern of inheritance. As an ASH clinical research fellow, he will extend this work to evaluate how genetic variation in mitochondria, which are known as the "power plants" inside the cells of the body, may predispose a person to developing high blood pressure as he or she grows older.

Dr. Chung was named President's Scholar at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he received dual bachelors' in applied biology and electrical engineering in 1986. After being chosen for the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Emory University School of Medicine, he was the first to describe and characterize an "energy-level" sensing protein (RBF3) that may be involved in controlling the rate of "fuel" (ATP) the mitochondria provide to cells of the body.

This predoctoral work was recognized at the 1992 American Society of Human Genetics Meeting. Dr. Chung received his Ph.D. in genetics and molecular medicine in 1993 and his medical degree in 1994. He currently is an internal medicine resident at Emory University Hospitals.

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