UTH

de Vries Lab

Research

Objectives

We work on large scale genomic studies within a variety of international consortia to unravel the genetic determinants of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, with a special emphasis on hemostatic factors. We are most active within the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium and the Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program, but also participate in other consortia. We are particularly interested in translational approaches such as Mendelian randomization and genetic risk prediction, and we welcome collaborations with wet lab teams to unravel the biology underlying the discovered loci.

Projects

Uncovering the genetics of hemostasis and thrombosis

Uncovering the genetics of hemostasis and thrombosis

Our lab has contributed to and led multiple studies in the CHARGE consortium Hemostasis Working Group that have resulting in the discovery of genetic loci associated with circulating levels of coagulation factor proteins, including fibrinogen, Factor VII, Factor VIII, von Willebrand Factor, and more. We have been able to leverage the results from these genetic studies to perform Mendelian randomization analyses, identifying potential causal effects of hemostatic factors on thrombotic outcomes. Specifically, we provided evidence for a causal effect of Factor VII levels on ischemic stroke, as well as for a causal effect of levels of von Willebrand Factor and Factor VIII on ischemic stroke, venous thromboembolism, coronary artery disease, and peripheral artery disease. We also showed that gamma prime fibrinogen may have a protective causal effect on venous thromboembolism, cardioembolic stroke, and large artery stroke.

Polygenic risk scores for prevention of cardiometabolic diseases

Polygenic risk scores for prevention of cardiometabolic diseases

We have sought to examine the role polygenic risk scores can play in the primary prevention of diseases such as coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. To date, our focus has been on the impact of these scores on lifetime risk of disease and years lived free of disease. Specifically, we showed that individuals with high polygenic risk score could offset their genetic extra risk of type 2 diabetes with a healthy BMI. Similarly, we showed that individuals with high polygenic risk score could offset their extra risk of coronary artery disease with a healthy lifestyle, as measured by the Life’s Simple 7 score. Individuals with a high polygenic risk score but an ideal Life’s Simple 7 score lived an additional 20 years free of coronary artery disease compared to those with the same polygenic risk score but poor Life’s Simple 7 score.

People

Paul S. de Vries

Paul S. de Vries, PhD

Associate Professor
Houston

After obtaining his PhD from the Erasmus University Rotterdam in 2016, Paul moved to Houston to pursue postdoctoral training. What was supposed to be a 2-year international adventure turned into something more permanent when he transitioned to the role of Assistant Professor. His research focuses on the genetics of three core sets of phenotypes: 1) coronary artery disease and atherosclerosis phenotypes, 2) hemostatic factors, and 3) cardiovascular risk factors like type 2 diabetes and lipids. Paul enjoys the Houston food scene and exploring Texas with his family.

Publication List

Natalie Hasbani

Natalie Hasbani, MPH

PhD student
Dallas Campus

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Natalie is interested in the genetics of atherosclerosis and type 2 diabetes. Her current work involves leveraging information from these traits to improve our understanding of their pathophysiology through multi-trait modeling and gene environment interaction analysis. Outside of research, I like to travel, cook, and enjoy time with family.

Julie Hahn

Julie Hahn, MPH

PhD student
Houston Campus

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Julie’s primary research interest lies in the genetic etiology of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors, with an emphasis on hemostatic factors. Outside of her research, she likes to cook, especially Korean dishes, and to stay active by playing tennis and golf.

Adam Heath

Adam Heath, MS

Statistician
Houston Campus

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Simon Braendle

Simon Braendle, BS

Dual degree MD/MPH student
El Paso Campus

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Simon Braendle is a third-year medical student originally from Aspen, Colorado. He is working on longitudinal trajectories of cardiometabolic traits. He hopes to apply genetic information to help inform and improve patient care. When he's not studying or working, he loves playing volleyball, ping pong, and soccer.

Alumni

Name and Credentials Title Organization Contact Information
Jillian Maners, MPH Epidemiologist Aegis Aerospace
Andy Castaneda, MPH Medical Student University of Houston
Allison bebo, MS
Rachel Friedman, MPH Research Coordinator UTHealth SPH
Ninad Chaudhary, PhD Postdoctoral Research Fellow 23andMe
Anuja Godbole, MPH

Get Involved

Recruitment

We are always looking for new PhD students to work with.

We encourage prospective students to apply to our doctoral program.

PhD in Epidemiology at UTHealth SPH


About School of Public Health

UTHealth Houston is internationally recognized as one of the world's great research universities. The School of Public Health connects research, education, patient care, and community outreach in bold, innovative ways. Basic scientists and clinical researchers from all disciplines work together to deliver innovative solutions that create the best hope for a healthier future. Our faculty are pioneering radical solutions for imminent public health problems and provide the tools and resources that will push our students to think critically and creatively both in and out of the classroom. This is where academic rigor meets real-world application.

Admissions | Academic Programs | Research Centers

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Resources

Genome-wide summary statistics of many of the genome-wide association studies our group has contributed to are available for download through dbGaP or public-facing websites.

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