Dr. Cassano and her research group led the following studies:
EnHANCE Pilot Study of Cornell freshmen, which identified a biological marker (erythritol) of gain in adiposity in the transition from home to college. Further studies are being planned to understand whether the biological marker has predictive value that could be leveraged to prevent gain in fatness in adults.
Respiratory Ancillary Study to the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT). This randomized trial found that supplementation with selenium attenuated the decline in a marker of lung function in cigarette smokers. Further studies are underway to define the genetic contribution to response to vitamin E supplementation, and to study whether benefit from the intervention was modified by genetic traits.
As a member of a consortium of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to investigate the relation of genetic variation to pulmonary phenotypes, Pat is PI of an NIH-funded study of gene-by-nutrient interactions in relation to pulmonary function phenotypes (with PI Dr. Dana Hancock at RTI). These studies are discovering new genetic variants that interact with nutrition, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, to influence lung function.
Specific research studies in progress, which are an integral part of the dissertation research of PhD students Jiayi Xu, Bonnie Patchen and Eun Ah Song, include the following:
GWAS of plasma change in vitamin E in response to vitamin E supplementation using data from the RAS, a large, randomized trial of nutrition interventions (supplemental vitamin E [400 mg daily] and/or selenium [200 ug daily]) in relation to pulmonary function decline (~3000 men) and risk of COPD and/or asthma (~35,000 men); collaborators: Dr. Dana Hancock at RTI and the SELECT study investigators, including collaborators at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Gene-by-nutrient studies of pulmonary function phenotypes within the CHARGE Consortium, under the auspices of NIH R21 funded project (Multi PIs: PA Cassano and D Hancock (RTI)) including the following 4 projects: gene x serum vitamin D; gene x plasma omega 3 fatty acids; gene x dietary omega 3 fatty acids; and gene x dietary pattern and dietary fiber (Collaborators are investigators in the Pulmonary Function Working Group of CHARGE, and investigators in the SpiroMeta Consortium)
Systematic reviews of nutrient--disease associations including the following 4 Cochrane reviews in progress: vitamin D and prevention of asthma and atopic dermatitis in children; folate interventions for arsenic exposed populations; food-based calcium and vitamin D for post-menopausal women in prevention of bone outcomes; B-vitamins in the treatment of sickle cell disease