GEMS Project

What is the GEMS project?

The GEMS project is a multicenter family study designed to uncover the genetic basis of the metabolic syndrome. GEMS stands for Genetic Epidemiology of the Metabolic Syndrome. The participation of the Center for Human Nutrition in the GEMS project represents collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline, Inc. 

What is the essence of the GEMS project?

The essential components of the GEMS project are the recruitment of 1,500 families that have clinical manifestation of the metabolic syndrome and the sequencing of DNA to identify the genetic basis of this syndrome. The project's ultimate goal is to identify major genes underlying the metabolic syndrome that can be targets for new drug development.

What academic centers are involved in the GEMS project?

The Center for Human Nutrition at UT Southwestern is the lead academic site for recruitment of families. The recruitment Centers and their principle investigators include: Center for Human Nutrition at UT Southwestern (Jonathan Cohen and Scott M. Grundy, co-principal investigators).  Other participating centers include:

  • University of California, San Francisco (Robert Mahley, principal investigator)
  • Department of Internal Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland (Antero Kesanemi, principal investigator)
  • Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Canada (Ruth McPherson, principal investigator)
  • The University of Adelaide, Australia (Philip Barter, principal investigator)
  • The University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland (Gerhard Weber, Mosser, principal investigator)

How will the GEMS data be analyzed?

The preliminary data from the collection sites were collated for analysis by the Genetics Program of the Boston University School of Medicine. The DNA collected in each of the recruitment centers will be analyzed in a central facility. Separately plasma markers related to the metabolic syndrome are being measured. 

What new research discoveries are expected from GEMS?

The primary goal of the GEMS project is to identify major genes that are responsible for metabolic syndrome. GSK holds the intellectual property rights to any gene discovery, within the limits of the contract with the University of Texas System. GSK's goal is to use this information to develop new drugs to treat metabolic syndrome. Academic investigators hold publication rights to all discoveries. Academic centers derive other benefits from the study. Investigators also hold the rights to discovery of candidate genes that contribute to the metabolic syndrome. In addition, the multicenter study allows for intellectual interactions among the outstanding group of investigators assembled for the study. This interaction should spawn further collaborative research among the investigators from different institutions. This collaborative research should expand the spectrum of problems raised by the concept of metabolic syndrome.