New Associate Director of UA Institute for Biomedical Science and Biotechnology Seeks to Uncover Genetic Basis of Asthma

<p>UA Institute for Biomedical Science and Biotechnology Seeks to Uncover Genetic Basis of Asthma</p>

New Associate Director of UA Institute for Biomedical Science and Biotechnology Seeks to Uncover Genetic Basis of Asthma

Fernando Martinez, MD, along with most other pediatricians, worries about the growing numbers of kids with asthma. Asthma is reaching epidemic levels in children, with one in 10 now needing treatment for this debilitating condition. Dr. Martinez believes part of the reason for that near epidemic is environmental, but the factors that have contributed to the recent increases in the prevalence of asthma still are unknown.
Genetic research techniques offer promising approaches, allowing scientists to pinpoint the specific genes that are affected by these environmental factors. Understanding the genetic processes may lead to a vaccine that could prevent asthma, maybe within 10 years. "I am convinced that in the next few decades we will find cures for the most common respiratory diseases affecting young and old," Dr. Martinez said. "I also believe that the Arizona Respiratory Center will continue to play a central role in this quest."

Dr. Martinez, director of the Arizona Respiratory Center and Swift-McNear Professor of Pediatrics at the UA College of Medicine, is an internationally known scientist recognized for his leadership in the area of risk factors for childhood asthma and the genetic basis for this disease. Dr. Martinez has just been named an associate director of the University of Arizona Institute for Biomedical Science and Biotechnology (IBSB).

"Fernando Martinez is trained as a physician, but he is also a fine geneticist and researcher and he has surrounded himself with topnotch people, creating a very strong research program at the Arizona Respiratory Center," said Thomas Baldwin, PhD, director of the Institute.

"Until now medicine has been a 'one size fits all' kind of thing. But we are all different. We are unique genetically. The practice of medicine is going to change in some very fundamental ways. And Dr. Martinez is one of the physicians who is leading that change."