My research in Dr. Nancy Brown’s laboratory focuses on identifying the genetic determinants of drug resistant hypertension. Resistant hypertension is a serious health concern characterized by elevated blood pressure above 140/90 mmHg following concurrent use of three medications including a diuretic. Persistently elevated blood pressure has the potential to compound cardiovascular risk factors contributing to a more severe prognosis including myocardial infarction, stroke, and heart and renal failure. These risks coupled with comorbidities, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and obesity, elevate the potential for unfavorable outcomes if target blood pressure is not obtained, in turn predisposing subjects with resistant hypertension to unfavorable outcomes. Despite the implications of this condition, very little is known about the mechanisms underlying treatment resistance. The identification of resistance associated genetic markers has the potential to further the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of hypertension and could provide evidence for more targeted treatment practices.
My clinical mentor Dr. J. Matthew Luther is a nephrologist and a member of the Department of Clinical Pharmacology. His clinical interests include the treatment of resistant hypertension and renal disease, with a special interest in primary aldosteronism and secondary causes of hypertension. My work with Dr. Luther will provide a clinical perspective to hypertension. This perspective is essential when addressing questions of the role of genetics in influencing the success of treatment because one must consider the complex nature of disease including various aspects of a patient’s condition, such as drug adherence practices and comorbidities that may bias the results.