I received my PhD from the University of Michigan in 1987 in Epidemiology and then relocated to the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, TX for post-doctoral training, where I studied diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Mexican Americans. In 1994 I joined the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio and began working on family studies with an emphasis on statistical genetics of complex diseases.
I joined the faculty at the University of Maryland in 2000, where my work has focused on understanding the genetic and environmental contributions to common complex diseases and traits, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, aging, stroke, and osteoarthritis. Many of my projects have provided research opportunities for students and post-docs. Much of my work over the past 20 years has been carried out in the Old Order Amish community of Lancaster, PA. I have been continually funded by NIH throughout my career, including as the PI of six different R01 grants. I currently direct the P30 Mid-Atlantic Nutrition Obesity Research Center and co-direct the P60 JHU-UMD Diabetes Research Center.
There is a substantial genetic contribution for susceptibility to most common diseases and traits, although for many of these diseases, specific DNA polymorphisms related to disease susceptibility have yet to be identified. My research program utilizes a variety of approaches to try to dissect the genetic and environmental determinants of a variety of complex diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, hypertension, osteoporosis and obesity. The goal of these efforts is to detect and identify common gene variants that may influence susceptibility to one or more of these disorders, and to determine how these variants may interact with other gene variants and/or with lifestyle factors to influence disease risk.
Much of my research is carried out in large population studies and includes collaborations with clinicians, molecular biologists, and geneticists. My current research is focused mainly in the areas of cardiometabolic health, stroke, and osteoarthritis. In addition to my work with the Old Order Amish community, my major research projects include the genetics of ischemic stroke in the Stroke Genetics Network, and the genetics of osteoarthritis in the Osteoarthritis Initiative.
Dr. Mitchell and others talk about diabetes research at the school: