Sarah Williams-Blangero

Scientist | No Department
Phone: 210-258-9577
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Williams-Blangero’s investigations of the genetic components underlying susceptibility to parasitic diseases are being pursued in two large-scale human population studies. The soil-transmitted intestinal worm infections (hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm) that affect a quarter of the world’s population are the focus of a genetic epidemiological study in the Jirels of Nepal. More than 2,600 members of a single pedigree participate in the study, which to date has localized 10 genes influencing levels of helminthic infection.

The second family study is based in rural Brazil and focuses on the genetic determinants of susceptibility to Chagas disease, which is the leading cause of heart disease in Latin America. Williams-Blangero is assessing the genetic components of susceptibility to infection with the parasitic cause (Trypanomosoma cruzi)  of Chagas disease and of differential cardiac disease progression in individuals who are infectedwith T. cruzi. A major review article published in 2011 summarized the results of the Chagas work to date. The extensive genetic characterization of the human populations involved in these studies of parasitic disease makes them exceptionally valuable for other studies.

Williams-Blangero also has a research program on the genetic factors influencing aging. This study builds on the unique resources generated by the San Antonio Family Heart Study, which has characterized the genetic components of heart disease in approximately 40 large Mexican American families over the last 20 years. Utilizing the transcriptional profiles that have been generated for the Mexican American population, she and her colleagues have identified over 4,000 gene transcripts that are significantly correlated with chronological age. While most transcript levels show a decrease with age, 43 percent of these transcripts show an increase in transcription with age.

Clearly, not all research questions can be answered by studies of humans. Through work with the Southwest National Primate Research Center and the Caribbean Primate Research Center, Williams-Blangero continues to pursue an interest in genetic management of nonhuman primate colonies.


Doctoral Degree: Biological Anthropology (1987)

Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH

Master's Degree: Biological Anthropology (1984)

Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH

Bachelor's Degree (1984)

Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH

Postdoctoral Work

1987 - 1990
Genetic Epidemiology
Texas Biomedical Research Institute
San Antonio, Texas

Research Focus

Genetic epidemiology of infectious disease, genetic management of nonhuman primates

Awards and Honors

2001 - Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
1985 - Graduate Alumni Research Award, Case Western Reserve University
1984 - B.A. magna cum laude, with Honors in Anthropology
1984 - Phi Beta Kappa


Host genetics and population structure effects on parasitic disease

Williams-Blangero S, Criscione C, VandeBerg JL, CorrĂȘa-Oliveira R, Williams KD, Subedi J, Kent JW Jr., Williams J, Blangero J
Phil Trans Roy Soc B 367: 887-94, 2012
PubMed ID: 22312056

Systems genetics of the nuclear factor-?? signal transduction network: I. Detection of several quantitative loci potentially relevant to aging

Diego VP, Curran JE, Charlesworth J, Peralta JM, Voruganti VS, Cole SA, Dyer TD, Johnson MP, Moses EK, Göring HH, Williams JT, Comuzzie AG, Almasy L, Blangero J, Williams- Blangero S
Mech Aging Dev 133: 11-19, 2012
PubMed ID: 22155176


5 R01 AI044406-09 (Williams-Blangero)    06/01/05 - 02/28/11  NIH/NIAID     $402,098
A Genome Scan for Susceptibility To Helminthic Infection

5 R01 AG031277-03 (Williams-Blangero)    02/15/08 - 01/31/13    NIH/NIA    $316,871
Genetic Determinants of Human Transcriptional Aging

1 R01 HL089849-01 (Williams-Blangero)    09/01/09 - 6/30/13    NIH/NHLBI    $492,100   
Genetic Epidemiology of Chagas Disease Progression

5 R01 AG030329-04 (Tatar)    09/30/06 - 08/31/10    1    NIH/NIA    $99,276
Genetics of Reproductive Senescence    (subcontract to Texas Biomed)

1 R01 DE018497-01 (Sherwood)    05/18/09 - 03/31/10        NIH/NIDCR    $166,433   
Genetic Architecture of a Human Dentognathic Complex    (subcontract to Texas Biomed)

1 R01 AR055632-01 (Mahaney)    09/25/09 - 07/31/14        NIH/NIAMS    $417,392
Genetics of Bone Structure and Metabolism

5 P40 RR018825-05 (VandeBerg)    09/29/04 - 08/31/10        NIH/NCRR    $465,563
Rhesus Breeding Colony in Nepal and Importation to USA

2 P51 RR013986-11 (Trevett)    05/01/09 - 04/30/14    NIH/NCRR    $815,520
Southwest National Primate Research Center     
Administration: Director’s Office
Primate Resources: Macaque Colony