$280 Million Boost for Disease Genomics

The genomics arm of the National Institutes of Health has pledged a total of $280 million for research into the genetic bases of disease.

Jan 18, 2016
Catherine Offord

NIH Building 1WIKIMEDIA, NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTEThe National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) announced in a press release last week (January 14) that it will provide more than $240 million over the next four years to fund research into the genomic variation underlying common diseases.

“The time is right for a very large-scale human genome sequencing program” in order to understand, “the genetic and environmental causes of common diseases,” NHGRI Director Eric Green told reporters (via STAT News). “The kind of information that can come out of this is overwhelmingly medically important.”

To spearhead the project, NHGRI has launched the Centers for Common Disease Genomics (CCDG), which will focus on diseases including diabetes, autism, and heart disease. Researchers at four funded centers associated with universities and colleges across the U.S. will sequence tens of thousands of genomes from individuals with and without the diseases in order to identify underlying genomic causes and correlations. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute will provide an additional $20 million for the CCDG centers, according to the NHGRI press release.

Meanwhile, funding of $40 million from NHGRI has been secured for the Centers for Mendelian Genetics (CMG)—a complementary program established in 2011. This program will continue its work on the genomic causes of rare diseases including cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy. In the last four years, the centers have identified more than 740 genes associated with Mendelian diseases and have sequenced the protein-coding regions of over 20,000 genomes, said NHGRI.