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NHLBI to Fund Cross Organ Systems Studies

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – A new grant program from the National Institutes of Health will provide up to $25 million to fund up to eight research centers to study traits or mechanisms across organ systems and diseases and use genetic and cellular research approaches to lung, heart, blood, and sleep disorders.

Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, the Mechanism-Associated Phenotypes for Genetic Analyses of Heart, Lung, Blood, and Sleep Diseases (MAPGen for HLBS) research centers will receive up to $400,000 per year, and a project duration of up to four years may be requested for a maximum of $1.6 million in direct costs over a four-year project period, said NHLBI.

The institute said in its request for applications that a new paradigm is needed for characterizing research subjects that would focus on phenotypic traits that reflect fundamental biological processes, instead of clinical symptoms, in order to define organ system diseases.

Traditional organ system disease definitions group patients with similar presentations, but they ignore differences in environmental exposure, clinical exposures, and underlying pathobiology. There is now an "increasing appreciation of the interconnectedness of traditionally defined diseases," according to NHLBI.

"Research discovery shows that many genes contribute to the manifestations of one traditionally defined disease, a single gene may be associated with more than one traditionally defined disease, and there are many connections among biological pathways," NHBLI said in the RFA.

The research centers funded under the program will pursue research that will create a basis for the rational, mechanism-based development of new diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic strategies for heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders.

These studies may include a wide range of research, including but not limited to:

• Studies of biomarkers and phenotypes underlying the link between obesity and metabolic syndrome, such as biomarkers related to fat disposition, energy intake and appetite regulation, insulin sensitivity and resistance, atherosclerosis and sleep disorders; research to identify and characterize cellular and molecular mechanisms that link pulmonary fibrosis and hypertension and that identifies intermediate phenotypes or biomarkers of disease;

• Studies of molecular and cellular pathobiology of interaction between cellular and fluid coagulation components of blood with vasculature in the development of deep vein thrombosis and vascular abnormalities of diabetes;

• Efforts to identify molecular links between metabolic diseases or syndromes and sleep disorders in order to define phenotypes or biomarkers that can be used for diagnosis, prognosis, or to predict treatment response.

Applications for the program are due by Sep. 1, 2010, with an anticipated start date of July 1, 2011.

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