Apr 25, 2006    #083
Contact: Noemi Rojas
(816) 235-1520

$580,000 takes gene study into third year

Bone fractures are a major public health problem, especially among the elderly. The most measurable factor contributing to fracture risk is low bone mass, or bone fragility. While there is a link between genetics and low bone mass, experts do not know which genes cause bones to become fragile.

To help unravel the mystery, the National Institutes of Health has awarded $579,795 to professor Hong-Wen Deng, PhD., of the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Medicine. This grant will fund Deng’s third year of his four-year, $2 million project.

The study involves the testing of about 20 prominent candidate genes for their association to bone mass variation. Eight hundred families, each consisting of parents and at least two healthy children, will be genotyped. Already, 310 Midwest families have been recruited.

“Dr. Deng’ s research is absolutely a vital step in the process of preventing and treating bone diseases,” said John R. Baumann, Ph.D., Vice Provost for Research at UMKC. “Further, his research is well-integrated into UMKC’s larger body of bone-related studies, which ranges from basic science to clinical investigations.”

Deng is an internationally recognized leader in osteoporosis research and co-holder of several patents in genetics. He is credited with developing several tools and methodologies widely used by researchers today.

Before coming to UMKC, he was director of Genetics Laboratories, which he established at the Osteoporosis Research Center in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He is a reviewer and contributor to more than two dozen professional peer-reviewed journals and has written several book chapters on genetics.

At UMKC, Deng, Ph.D. occupies the Franklin D. Dickson/Missouri Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. The Chair, established in 2002, has a $2.2 million endowment.

Did you know?

• 1.7 million hip fractures occurred in 1990

• 6.3 million hip fractures are projected for 2050

• Osteoporosis cost the U.S. about $14 billion in 1997

The UMKC School of Medicine offers a combined baccalaureate/doctor of medicine degree program that admits students out of high school. The program provides students with early and ongoing clinical experience through teams of students, physicians and other health-care providers. The School of Medicine also offers residency training in 15 specialties and 19 subspecialty residency programs. The school partners with Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Saint Luke's Hospital of Kansas City, Truman Medical Centers, Western Missouri Mental Health Center and the Kansas City VA Hospital. For more information on the UMKC School of Medicine, visit

UMKC is one of 24 research universities in the United States that has medicine, dentistry, nursing and pharmacy education programs all located on one campus. To learn more about health sciences at UMKC, please visit

UMKC, one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences and urban affairs.

This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).



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