Owen A. Ross, Ph.D.
Owen A. Ross, Ph.D.
Dr. Ross's interests revolve around the area of genetics in aging and age-related disorders. His primary research is focused on stroke and vascular neurological disorders.
It is estimated 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year with one-third being fatal. Genetic studies on stroke will identify novel prognostic genetic biomarkers for individuals at risk of stroke.
The identification of functional pathogenic variants may also direct prevention strategies and nominate molecular targets for individualized disease-modifying therapies. Dr. Ross believes individualized medicine will become central in disease treatment with therapeutic intervention based on the genomic background of each patient.
In this regard, Dr. Ross works on tissue-specific methylation patterns in CpG islands for sporadic neurodegenerative diseases. CpG islands are typically common near transcription start sites, and may be associated with UTR regions. CpGs are relatively rare unless there is selective pressure to keep them or a region is not methylated for specific reasons e.g. regulation of gene expression. Altered methylation in genes may result in dysregulation of gene expression and these studies may be crucial in the future development of therapeutics. Investigating the role of these "epigenetic" determinants in neurodegenerative disorders may help elucidate the mechanisms behind the susceptibility of specific subgroups of neurons to degenerate.
Dr. Ross's research is also focused on the role of genetics in familial and sporadic forms of parkinsonism and related movement disorders. Recently he identified a functional common Parkinson's disease "risk-factor" (Lrrk2 p.R1628P) in Asian populations, demonstrating the importance of genetics in sporadic disease. Dr. Ross has research collaborations with Departments of Neurology/Neuroscience in more than 10 countries. Genetic studies include genetic testing of known genes, and the hunt for novel genes and pathogenic mutations.
Dr. Ross's other research interests have centered on the role of the extranuclear DNA genome of the mitochondrion in aging and disease. The polymorphic nature of mtDNA and propensity for damage are crucial in cellular oxidative stress and apoptosis. He also has a keen interest in immunogenetics and immune dysfunction resulting in an altered inflammatory equilibrium and the role this has to play in immunosenescence and longevity.
Dr. Ross is a member of the Division of Neurogenetics, in the Department of Neuroscience at Mayo Clinic in Florida. The mission of the division is to accelerate the development of novel therapeutics for patients with neurologic disease. Neurogenetic methods may now refine patient diagnosis, identify biomarkers of early and progressive disease, nominate 'druggable' targets, establish functional assays for drug development as well as the in vivo models on which to test them. The Neurogenetics Laboratories conceptualize the theme of 'Bench-to-Bedside' and represent translational neuroscience in practice.
Laboratory Science, Genetics and Gerontology
© 2013 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.