The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has won a $40 million grant from the NIH’s National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

The funding will provide whole genome sequencing of 20,000 individuals, as well as data to support smaller pilot studies in transcriptome sequencing and metabolite profiling, the institute said. The project is part of NHLBI's Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program.

Work funded by the grant will be a first step toward a larger effort using whole genome sequencing. That effort, the Broad Institute said, is intended to drive genetic discovery in complex disease, provide a resource for discovering factors that influence disease risk, identify disease subtypes, and develop more targeted and personalized treatments.

“The Broad Institute Genomics Platform is well-suited to expand our capabilities for TOPMed and take on the challenge of delivering on the NHLBI's goals,” Stacey Gabriel, Ph.D., the platform’s senior director, said in a statement.

She said the Platform was involved in the first phase of TOPMed this year, sequencing thousands of participants in the multi-generational, longitudinal Framingham Heart Study as well as patients with atrial fibrillation.

“Now we will be able to seamlessly scale to enable these new large projects to directly benefit studies in the genetics of disease,” Dr. Gabriel said.

To that end, she added, the Platform has significantly expanded its number of sequencers to address the increase in sequencing demand. According to the Broad Institute, the project and others will require the production of roughly 35,000 genomes over the year—more than double the 14,375 genomes whose sequencing was completed at Broad over the past 12 months.

TOPMed is designed to provide a more comprehensive view of the genome, aimed at further understanding the genetics relevant to heart, lung, blood and sleep disorders.

The program also aims to couple whole genome sequencing with additional phenotype data using integrative “omics” approaches through the incorporation of DNA methylation, RNA expression patterns and metabolic profiling with phenotypic and clinical outcome data from prior studies focused on HLBS disorders.

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