Dr. Fornage’s research interests lie in the molecular genetics of complex diseases, with an emphasis on cerebrovascular disease and stroke.

Dr. Fornage received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas – Houston in 1996. She pursued her post-doctoral training in the Department of Genetics at Case Western University, Cleveland, Ohio. She joined the Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Texas – Houston, in 1998 as a Research Fellow, was appointed Assistant Professor of Molecular Medicine in 2000, and Associate Professor in 2007. Dr. Fornage is also a faculty member of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Program in Human and Molecular Genetics. Her research interests lie in the molecular genetics of complex diseases, with an emphasis on cerebrovascular disease and stroke. She is a member of the American Society of Human Genetics and the American Heart Association Stroke Council.

Current research is directed at understanding the genetic basis of brain vascular injury using functional genomic and genetic epidemiology strategies. Work in Dr. Fornage’s laboratory employs microarray gene expression profiling and 2D gel electrophoresis proteomic analysis to identify genes and gene pathways contributing to stroke susceptibility in the stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHRSP). These studies recently identified the gene encoding soluble epoxide hydrolase, an enzyme involved in endothelium function, cerebral functional hyperemia, and angiogenesis, as a candidate gene influencing susceptibility to brain vascular injury in this model. Ongoing work is aimed at identifying the set of genes that comprises the molecular network underlying soluble epoxide hydrolase function in vascular disease.

Discovery of the molecular mechanisms contributing to increased susceptibility to brain lesions in the SHRSP provides the basis for investigation of these pathogenetic mechanisms in the development of human cardiovascular disease. Therefore, Dr. Fornage’s laboratory also investigates whether variation in the human orthologues of the genes identified in the rat model influences risk of developing cardiovascular disease in the human population. She recently reported that sequence variation in the human soluble epoxide hydrolase gene influences risk for ischemic stroke in African-Americans and European-Americans.

Dr. Fornage is an investigator of the NHLBI Coronary Artery Disease Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, a multi-center study of the distribution and evolution of coronary heart disease risk factors from young adulthood to middle-age. Her contribution to the study is directed toward the investigation of the interaction between genes and environmental factors that contribute to the development of coronary heart disease in young adults. Ongoing work investigates the interactions of variation in genes involved in eicosanoid synthesis and metabolism with dietary intake of fatty acids on the development and progression of atherosclerosis and its risk factors.