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College in Wisconsin Receives Federal Grant for VWD Research

The Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee recently received a five-year, $9.7 million Program Project Grant from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute to study the genetics of von Willebrand disease (VWD). Using blood samples from patients at multiple hemophilia treatment centers (HTCs) across the U.S., investigators will examine the clinical and genetic aspects of VWD.


VWD is the most common inherited bleeding disorder in the U.S. It can be passed on to the child by the mother or father, and affects males and females equally. There are several types and subtypes of VWD, each associated with different levels of bleeding.


“There is a lack of understanding of the genetic causes of low or abnormal VWF, and the molecular mechanisms involved in the disorder,” said Robert R. Montgomery, principal investigator of the study. He is a pediatric hematologist and professor of pediatrics at the Medical College and senior researcher at the Blood Research Center of the BloodCenter of Wisconsin. “While a large number of individuals have low VWF with abnormal bleeding symptoms, it is not scientifically clear if this is a disease, or if VWF is a continuous risk-factor for bleeding. For many practicing physicians, the general understanding of this group of disorders has not been optimal, and how to evaluate and treat these patients has been unclear.”


VWD patients will be recruited from HTCs in Atlanta, Detroit, Iowa City, Indianapolis, Houston, New Orleans, Pittsburgh and elsewhere. Their blood samples will be tested at the BloodCenter’s Hemostasis Laboratory.     


Source: Medical College of Wisconsin news release dated October 27, 2006


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