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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Doctoral student receives grants for genetic research

Doctoral student Patricia Underwood was awarded two grants for her work to find genetic markers for insulin resistance in patients with hypertension.

Doctoral student Patricia Underwood was awarded two grants for her work to find genetic markers for insulin resistance in patients with hypertension. She received a National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) at the National Institute of Health (NIH), as well as a grant from the International Society of Nurses in Genetics (ISONG). Underwood's project sponsors include Catherine Read PhD, RN, Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program, and Dr. Gordon Williams, MD of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

Underwood received her undergraduate degree in molecular biology at Lehigh University and completed an accelerated BSN program at the University of Pennsylvania before coming to Boston College. A MS / PhD student, she finished her masters degree last year and is currently in the third year of her PhD program. In 2007 she also attended the Summer Genetics Institute at the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)/NIH, an intensive two-month summer research training program designed to provide a foundation in molecular genetics for use in research in clinical practice. Underwood describes the Summer Genetics Institute as instrumental in getting the grant, as it provided her with an additional foundation in genetics and how to use that knowledge in clinical research.

Underwood will train at Brigham and Women's Hospital to identify genetic markers associated with insulin resistance among patients with hypertension by using DNA sequencing techniques and a candidate gene approach. She then plans to work with an interdisciplinary team to develop individualized prevention and treatment plans for patients based on their genetic markers. With the help of her two grants, Underwood will be able to continue this work for the next three and a half years.