UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

He, Weijing

School of Medicine
Medicine
(210) 567-0383
hew@uthscsa.edu

My research is focused on characterizing the host genetic, epigenetic and immunologic determinants of immune-mediated diseases and translating those findings into personalized medicine. I have extensive experience in large-scale genetic, genomic, immunologic, and epidemiologic population/cohort research. I also have extensive experience in research training and mentoring at all levels (high school, undergraduate, and graduate students). I serve as the head of the Genetic Core of the VA Center for Personalized Medicine and assist, in a hands-on manner, all statistical genetic and bioinformatics research conducted in the Center and the Genome Unit, which houses state-of-the-art Illumina-based equipment for conducting GWASs and next-generation sequencing studies. My work has been published in top journals (e.g., NEJM, Nature Medicine, PNAS) and is widely cited (n=1291). My research interests are extensive; the following are specific examples.


1). Host genetic determinants of HIV/AIDS. I use genetics as a tool to investigate the mechanisms of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis and response to therapy. Studies have identified specific genetic polymorphisms, particularly in genes for chemokines and chemokine receptors and the chromosome 6 MHC loci, that have major effects on HIV pathogenesis as well as response to anti-retroviral therapy. These findings have significant implications for management of patients with HIV/AIDS and for the design of clinical trials of new vaccines and therapies.


2). Pathogenesis of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis: Allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (AR) is the most common of IgE-mediated diseases, with some surveys indicating it affects as much as 40% of the surveyed north America population. I use systems biology approaches and in collaboration with Dr. Jacobs and his group, we have conducted a series of allergen challenges in AR patients with in the Biogenics Research Chamber, Our studies have provided evidences for the hygiene hypothesis and suggest that accounting for the overall aeroallergen sensitization status of participants in clinical trials could help mitigate confounding variables. For example, challenging AR patients with both pollen and dust mite sensitivity, we found that patients with more than one sensitivity had greater symptoms. When the allergic subjects were also sensitive to cockroach antigen, there was a muted response after challenge. This response was not found in subjects with a negative skin test to cockroach. We suggest that sensitivity to cockroach is a proxy for early-life exposure to micro-organisms---consistent with the hygiene hypothesis.


3). Development of new disease biomarkers. One of my long-term interests is developing new biomarkers for various diseases. For example, we are working in collaboration with the Department of Surgery at UTHSCSA to develop markers of rejection in patients undergoing lung transplantation; we are doing so by comparing whole genome transcripts derived by RNAseq from both peripheral blood and lung biopsies. This investigation is akin to a recent study in patients who underwent cardiac transplantation in NEJM that identified dozen gene transcripts detected in peripheral blood that was effective in predicting rejection. Another recent example of our research is the successful development of the biomarker CHI3L1 for NASH. Its specificity and sensitivity are much better than those of the current biomarkers used in the clinic.

10/2009 - Present Assistant Professor Uni. Texas Heath. Sci. Ctr. San Antonio, Medicine, San Antonio, TX