[Source: NIH]
[Source: NIH]

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) annouced today that it will spend $260 million over four years to fund four genome sequencing and analysis centers whose research is expected to focus on understanding the genomic bases of common and rare human diseases.

The new Centers for Common Disease Genomics (CCDG) will be funded through NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). The CCDG aims to improve understanding of how genomic differences among people influence disease risk and to develop models for future studies of common disease.

CCDG investigators will initially focus on cardiovascular and metabolic and neuropsychiatric diseases, though they are considering exploring other disorders, including inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, bone and skeletal diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease. The NIH expects as many as 150,000 to 200,000 genomes to be sequenced.

“These studies will reveal genomic variants that may increase the risk for—or, in some cases, protect against—diseases, which eventually might be helpful for their clinical management,” Adam Felsenfeld, Ph.D., director of the NHGRI Genome Sequencing Program, said in a statement. NHGRI will eventually select additional diseases for study. 

Most of the funding for CCDG—$240 million “pending available funds,” according to NIH—will be spent over four years at four centers:

  • $80 million for the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Principal investigators: Eric Lander, Ph.D., Mark Daly, Ph.D., Stacey Gabriel, Ph.D. and Sekar Kathiresan, M.D.
  • $60 million for Washington University in St. Louis. Principal Investigator: Richard Wilson, Ph.D.
  • $60 million for Baylor College of Medicine. Principal Investigator: Richard Gibbs, Ph.D. 
  • $40 million for New York Genome Center. Principal Investigator: Robert Darnell, M.D., Ph.D.

The CCDG centers will receive an additional $20 million from NIH’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.

Separately, NHGRI will provide $40 million toward the next phase of the Centers for Mendelian Genomics (CMG). NHGRI launched CMG in 2011 with the aim of systematically identifying the genomic causes of Mendelian diseases.

CMG will see additional support from NHLBI as well as from the National Eye Institute.

By sequencing and analyzing the protein-coding portions of more than 20,000 human genomes over the past four years, CMG investigators have identified over 740 genes as likely causes of Mendelian diseases. CMG researchers have also developed and disseminated tools to facilitate rapid discovery of such genes. 

NHGRI will also spend approximately $4 million over four years for a new Coordinating Center designed to facilitate research collaborations among grantees of the programs, as well as contribute to data analysis and program outreach.

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