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University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center
Publish Date: 10/18/01
Media Contact: AHC Public Relations, (513) 558-4553
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World Renowned Geneticist Joins UC Academic Health Center

Cincinnati--Ranajit Chakraborty, PhD, an internationally distinguished geneticist, has joined the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in the Department of Environmental Health. Chakraborty will serve as the first Robert A. Kehoe Chair of Environmental Health and will be the director of the newly created UC Center for Genome Information.

"Medical schools rarely have the opportunity to recruit an internationally renowned, highly productive scientist like Dr. Chakraborty," said John Hutton, MD, dean of the UC College of Medicine. "Many of our faculty worked very hard to bring him here. His presence truly propels Cincinnati to leadership in the burgeoning and important field of human genomics by taking advantage of knowledge of the sequence of human DNA to identify causes of common human diseases."

The Kehoe Chair has a total endowment of $2 million and supports research and growth in the field of environmental health and preserves the memory of the lasting and invaluable accomplishments of Robert Kehoe. A committed faculty member of the Medical Center for over forty years, Kehoe helped pioneer the techniques and research that developed into the field of environmental health at UC. Upon his death in 1992, he left a bequest of $1.3 million, which provided the base for the Kehoe Chair.

The mission of the UC Center for Genome Information is to establish a research program for understanding the genetic basis for complex diseases such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. A state of the art molecular laboratory and high-efficiency computer facility have already been set up within the center for collection and analysis of genetic materials from affected individuals to find genes underlying these diseases.

"I am confident we can set up a national Center for Genome Information here that will be one of the best in the country," Chakraborty said. "UC already has an established environment for genetic studies which will be further enhanced by our involvement."

Chakraborty comes to the Medical Center from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, where he was the distinguished Allan King Professor of Biological Sciences, Population Genetics and Biometry. He has done pioneering work on DNA forensics and has often been called on as an expert for forensic identification.

Presently, the New York Medical Examiner's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have requested Chakraborty's help in identifying the remains of the victims in New York and Washington D.C. from the September 11 terrorist attacks. Chakraborty and a graduate student wrote the software the government is using to identify the DNA of the victims. He has been selected as a member of two commissions set up for collection and laboratory typing of DNA from the remains and interpretation of the data for identification. For the last 13 years, his research on the use of DNA analysis has helped numerous courts in the U.S. and Canada convict criminals and also exonerate wrongly accused suspects.

Chakraborty is the author of over 500 research papers and coeditor of eight books. He has served on many international governmental committees and U.S. National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation review panels, as well as editorial boards of many international journals of genetics and genetic epidemiology. A founding fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, Chakraborty is currently a member of the International Committee of Radiological Protection task force to evaluate the effects of radiation on increasing the risk of complex human diseases.

In addition, he served on the National DNA Advisory Board, enacted by the DNA Act of 1994 of the U.S. Congress, and on the DNA Subcommission of the State of New York, whose tasks include formulating guidelines for quality control and quality assurance of DNA testing. Chakraborty was given the award for "Outstanding Contributions during the Decade of DNA, 1988-1998 " from the FBI in 1998 and the "Man of the Year Award" in 1996 by the Cultural Association of Bengal, New York.

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