genetics

Unlocking the Genetics of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders have long been discussed in strictly psychiatric terms, but a study from the UNC Center of Excellence for Eating Disorders is reconceptualizing these illnesses. Through international genetic sampling, Cynthia Bulik, the center’s founding director, aims to puzzle out the biological factors behind eating disorders and improve the success of treatments.

Editing Along Ethical Boundaries

Imagine a tool that could cure thousands of genetic illnesses by replacing faulty strands of DNA. What if that same invention could enhance traits like height and intelligence in children through the manipulation of DNA in embryos? CRISPR, a gene-editing technology, is tricky business — and geneticists at UNC are addressing the ethics surrounding it.

The Frog Family

David and Karin Pfennig have created a home away from home in the Arizona desert. For about five weeks every summer, the couple studies spadefoot toads. Long days and nights are filled with collecting specimen, conducting experiments, and recording observations. Not only do they bring along graduate students, but also a pair of special assistants — their daughters.

One Size Won’t Fit All

Nearly 35 percent of Americans are considered obese — a diagnosis that has become so common the American Medical Association recognizes it as a chronic disease. While the diagnosis is the same for all, the treatments vary; what works for one person typically doesn’t work for another. In response, researchers from across UNC have joined forces to tackle this ever-growing problem.

The Family Disease

Cystic fibrosis took five of her siblings at a young age. Now, Wanda O’Neal is part of a team of UNC researchers searching for reasons why. Their latest work provides insight that will help unravel why a sixth sibling with CF is living a productive life as he turns 50.