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Molecular and Human Genetics

Houston, Texas

Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
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Neil Hanchard M.D., Ph.D.

Neil Hanchard M.D., Ph.D.Assistant Professor of Molecular and Human Genetics

Other Positions

Assistant Professor, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center


M.D. (MBBS), University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1999
Ph.D. (D.Phil.), University of Oxford, United Kingdom, 2004
Resident, Pediatrics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, 2009
Fellow, Clinical Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, 2011

Board Certifications

American Board of Pediatrics
American Board of Medical Genetics: Clinical Genetics

Research Interests

Our laboratory is using genomics to better understand complex pediatric disease traits. We are particularly interested in global health diseases. This interest is best exemplified by severe childhood malnutrition (SCM), a major global health problem that contributes to more than two million childhood deaths worldwide each year. SCM occurs in two clinically distinct forms - the more lethal edematous SCM (ESCM), and the milder non-edematous SCM (NESCM). Despite years of study, the reasons why some children get ESCM while others get NESCM remain unclear; however, both groups have similar environmental and dietary exposures, suggesting that ESCM may partly result from innate genetic differences in the response to nutritional stress. In collaboration with researchers in Malawi and Jamaica, we are undertaking integrative genomic analyses using genome-wide SNP genotyping and DNA methylation profiles in children with ESCM and NESCM. In this way, we aim to identify the genes and gene-pathways that contribute to the clinical dichotomy of SCM.

We are also involved in genomic studies of children with HIV and with Tuberculosis (TB) – HIV’s most common co-morbidity. Each year half a million children are infected with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa, and ~50% of them will have concomitant TB. Within these groups, however, there is a wide variability in the rate and extent of disease progression. As part of the Collaborative African Genomics Network – CAfGEN – we are working with physicians and scientists in Uganda and Botswana to use next-generation sequencing and integrated genomics to better understand the host factors that modulate the progression of HIV and HIV-TB infection in children from sub-Saharan Africa.

I also have a long-standing interest in using genomics to better understand the comorbidities of sickle cell disease (SCD) and the population genetics of the underlying sickle mutation. For instance, persons with SCD are often exposed to repeated blood transfusions, and a significant number of individuals will subsequently develop multiple ‘alloantibodies’ with repeated transfusions. For these so-called alloimmune ‘responders’, the formation of alloantibodies can occur in such number and combination that the provision of compatible blood becomes nearly impossible. The biology of the “responder” phenomenon is largely unknown; however, responders and non-responders have similar transfusion exposures, suggesting that inter-individual variation may play a role. Together with local collaborators, we are using genome-wide genotyping and estimates of population ancestry to study the development of alloimmunity in persons with SCD.

Finally, as a clinical geneticist, I have an ongoing interest in using genome-wide technologies to provide a molecular diagnosis for families with unusual or atypical presentations of genetic diseases.

Selected Publications

  1. Wiszniewski W, Hunter JV, Hanchard NA, Willer JR, Shaw C, Tian Q, Illner A, Wang X, Cheung SW, Patel A, Campbell IM, Hixson P, Ester AR, Azamian MS, Potocki L, Zapata G, Hernandez PP, Ramocki MB, Santos-Cortez RL, Wang G, York MK, Justice MJ, Chu ZD, Bader PI, Omo-Griffith L, Madduri NS, Scharer G, Crawford HP, Yanatatsaneejit P, Eifert A, Kerr J, Bacino CA, Franklin AI, Goin-Kochel RP, Simpson G, Immken L, Haque ME, Stosic M, Williams MD, Morgan TM, Pruthi S, Omary R, Boyadjiev SA, Win KK, Thida A, Hurles M, Hibberd ML, Khor CC, Van Vinh Chau N, Gallagher TE, Mutirangura A, Stankiewicz P, Beaudet AL, Maletic-Savatic M, Rosenfeld JA, Shaffer LG, Davis EE, Belmont JW, Dunstan S, Simmons CP, Bonnen PE, Leal SM, Katsanis N, Lupski JR, Lalani SR. TM4SF20 Ancestral Deletion and Susceptibility to a Pediatric Disorder of Early Language Delay and Cerebral White Matter Hyperintensities. Am. J. Hum. Genet., in press. PubMed PMID: 23810381
  2. Hanchard NA, Murdock DR, Magoulas PL, Bainbridge M, Muzny D, Wu YQ, Wang M, McGuire AL, Lupski JR, Gibbs RA, Brown CW (2013). Exploring the utility of whole-exome sequencing as a diagnostic tool in a child with atypical episodic muscle weakness. Clin. Genet. 83(5): 457-61. PubMed PMID: 22901280
  3. Hanchard NA, Jacobson RM, Poland GA, Juhn YJ (2010). An assessment of the association between childhood asthma and HLA DRB1*03 using extended haplotype analysis. Tissue Antigens 76(6): 491-4. PubMed PMID: 20735759
  4. Atkinson SH, Rockett KA, Morgan G, Bejon PA, Sirugo G, O'Connell MA, Hanchard N, Kwiatkowski DP, Prentice AM (2008). Tumor necrosis factor SNP haplotypes are associated with iron deficiency anemia in West African children. Blood 112(10): 4276-83. PubMed PMID: 18716131
  5. Hanchard N, Elzein A, Trafford C, Rockett K, Pinder M, Jallow M, Harding R, Kwiatkowski D, McKenzie C (2007). Classical sickle beta-globin haplotypes exhibit a high degree of long-range haplotype similarity in African and Afro-Caribbean populations. BMC Genet. 8: 52. PubMed PMID: 17688704
  6. Hanchard NA, Rockett KA, Spencer C, Coop G, Pinder M, Jallow M, Kimber M, McVean G, Mott R, Kwiatkowski DP (2006). Screening for recently selected alleles by analysis of human haplotype similarity. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 78(1): 153-9. PubMed PMID: 16385459
  7. Hanchard NA, Hambleton I, Harding RM, McKenzie CA (2006). Predicted declines in sickle allele frequency in Jamaica using empirical data. Am. J. Hematol. 81(11): 817-23. PubMed PMID: 16929536
  8. Hanchard NA, Hambleton I, Harding RM, McKenzie CA (2005). The frequency of the sickle allele in Jamaica has not declined over the last 22 years. Br. J. Haematol. 130(6): 939-42. PubMed PMID: 16156863
  9. Zöllner S, Wen X, Hanchard NA, Herbert MA, Ober C, Pritchard JK (2004). Evidence for extensive transmission distortion in the human genome. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 74(1): 62-72. PubMed PMID: 14681832

Contact Information

Neil Hanchard M.D., Ph.D.
Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
ARS/USDA Children’s Nutrition Research Center
Baylor College of Medicine
One Baylor Plaza, MS BCM320
Houston, TX, 77030, U.S.A.

Phone: 713-798-0393
Fax: 713-798-7187

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