The overarching goal of the Cassano Research Group is to understand the role of nutrition and its interaction with the genome in the etiology of chronic disease. Our past studies provided evidence that nutrients with antioxidant properties play a role in the etiology of lung disease, and this line of research culminated in a randomized controlled trial of vitamin E and selenium supplementation to study effects on rate of decline in lung function and risk of COPD. The trial found a protective effect of selenium on a marker of lung function decline in cigarette smokers, and evidence that vitamin E was protective in a subset of participants. Given important contributions of genetic susceptibility to major chronic diseases, and the hypothesis that dietary exposures interact with genomic variation in the causation of chronic disease, we also study whether genomic variation contributes to differential responses to diet in relation to lung phenotypes. Understanding the role of genetic variation, and the interaction between genes and nutrients, is important to identify prevention targets and to provide the best advice for dietary guidance to avoid chronic disease.

We work in collaboration with the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium and the SpiroMeta consortium to directly investigate gene-by-nutrient interactions in relation to pulmonary function and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, with studies on plasma omega 3 fatty acids, serum vitamin D, dietary patterns, and the dietary intake of fiber and omega 3 fatty acids.

Current projects include:

Genome-wide association study of lung function decline (NIH R01 HL149352, "Nutritional Omics of Lung Function Decline", multi-PIs D Hancock and PA Cassano)

Cornell Center for Health Equity pilot project on evidence-based nutrition content for the Patient Activated Learning System, with Weill Cornell Medicine (collaborative team includes PA Cassano, Monika Safford, Laura Barre and Joan Paddock)

Dr. Cassano's full publication list is available at NCBI.


Patricia A. Cassano, M.P.H., Ph.D., is the Alan D. Mathios Professor and Director, Division of Nutritional Sciences, and Professor, Department of Population Health Studies, Division of Epidemiology Weill Cornell Medicine, and Director of Graduate Studies for the Minor Field of Epidemiology in the Cornell University Graduate School.
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