[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 23-Jul-2013
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Contact: Steven Benowitz
steven.benowitz@nih.gov
301-451-8325
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute

NIH funds new grants exploring use of genome sequencing in patient care

The National Institutes of Health has awarded four grants for up to four years to multidisciplinary research teams to explore the use of genome sequencing in medical care. The awards total approximately $6.7 million in the first year and, if funding remains available, approximately $27 million in total.

The areas of research being pursued by these new projects include using genome sequencing to inform couples about reproductive risks, determining the genetic causes of childhood developmental delays and communicating findings to parents, and detecting genomic alterations that can lead to cancer. The new grants are funded as part of the National Human Genome Research Institute's (NHGRI) Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) program. NHGRI is part of NIH.

The new grants expand on the initial CSER program awards given to six research teams in December 2011. The current funding includes approximately $5 million from the National Cancer Institute, also part of NIH.

"Since the first round of CSER program awards were announced in 2011, the use of clinical genome sequencing has seen tremendous growth," said Bradley Ozenberger, Ph.D., CSER program director and deputy director of the Division of Genomic Medicine at NHGRI. "Genome sequencing has vast potential to uncover new targets for therapy. We're continuing to learn how best to use genome sequence data to understand disease susceptibility and causation, and to advance treatment."

The use of clinical genome sequencing has increased due to the advent of more efficient methods for DNA sequencing, but many obstacles remain to its routine use. Some physicians typically lack experience and education in the use of genomic information, said Dr. Ozenberger. At the same time, some patients don't fully understand what genomic information can tell them. Many people may be reluctant to find out what information resides in their genome, he said.

"It's not enough to understand the scientific issues related to the medical applications of genomics. Researchers must also examine how best to discuss genome sequencing results and their potential implications with doctors, patients and caregivers," said Jean McEwen, J.D., Ph.D., program director for the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications program in the Division of Genomics and Society at NHGRI.

The new CSER program grants are awarded to the following groups:

These awards are supported by NIH grants 1UM1HG006508-01AL, 1UM1HG007292-01, 1UM1HG007301-01, and 1U01HG007307-01.

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NHGRI is one of the 27 institutes and centers at the National Institutes of Health. The NHGRI Extramural Research Program supports grants for research and training and career development at sites nationwide. Additional information about NHGRI can be found at http://www.genome.gov.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 institutes and centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit http://www.nih.gov.



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