Mitchell Drumm is a native of Ohio, originally from New Philadelphia and a graduate of the Ohio State University where he received his BS in Genetics in 1983. His graduate work was carried out at the University of Michigan in the Department of Human Genetics where he worked under Francis Collins, M.D., Ph.D. After obtaining his Ph.D. in 1990, Dr. Drumm continued to work with Dr. Collins until moving to Cleveland and joining the Departments of Pediatrics and Genetics at Case Western Reserve University in 1992.
Professor Drumm's research focuses on the genetics of cystic fibrosis (CF), specifically with the goal of identifying therapeutic targets for the treatment of CF. His interest in CF began with his thesis work to develop a technique, termed "chromosome jumping" to rapidly move from one position in the genome to another on the same chromosome. The project evolved into identifying the location of the gene causing CF, and culminated in the discovery and cloning of the CFTR gene. Since that time, he has worked to understand how CFTR works at the cellular and tissue level, and more currently how the various tissues and organs interact to create the spectrum of traits associated with the disease. At the molecular level, his lab is investigating the promoter of the CFTR gene, as its regulation may be tied to the regulation of other genes, which may in turn contribute to the disease.
His lab has also returned to more classic genetic approaches to take advantage of the substantial variation in the course of disease between CF patients. Currently, Professor Drumm and collaborators are examining genetic determinants of this variation. The rationale for these studies is that understanding the source of variation should suggest therapeutic targets for the disorder. To accomplish these goals, the Drumm lab is employing human and mouse genetics as complementing approaches. Using CF mice as a model, his laboratory is examining the heritability of traits believed to be involved in the pathophysiology of CF, such as epithelial ion transport and changes in the growth axis. Mouse genetics provide a powerful tool for identifying loci of interest, but clearly mice are a limited model of CF-relevant traits. Therefore, CF patients are also being studied by the Drumm laboratory and collaborators at the University of North Carolina, the Johns Hopkins University and the University of Toronto in which they are investigating the role of common genetic variants across the genome to identify genes involved in the pathophysiology of the disease.