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NHLBI Starts $76M Genetic Variation Studies

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute plans to pump $76 million over the next five years into a program aimed at combining cellular tools, molecular profiling, and genomics to study human genomic variation and genetic links to disease.

The "Next Generation Genetic Association Studies" program will support between five and eight grants to researchers that aim to combine cellular reprogramming strategies, molecular profiling, and cellular assays, and integrate them into existing genotypic and clinical phenotypic data on naturally occurring human genetic variation.

Under the program, NHLBI will provide up to $5.8 million in total direct costs for each applicant, including up to $500,000 in first-year costs, second-year costs of up to $825,000, and the third through fifth-year costs are not to exceed $1.5 million.

Applicants for funding may propose phases I to III or II to III, depending on the current state of iPS generation and cell type differentiation technology needed to meet their specific aims, the institute said.

The first-phase grants will support one technology development phase aimed at using emerging induced pluripotent stem cell generation and differentiation technologies to generate cell types relevant to heart, lung, and blood diseases, and the second phase will involve scaling up the technology.

The third phase of the grants will support integrating cellular reprogramming, molecular profiling, physiological or biochemical assays, and existing genotype and phenotype information to assess the functional significance of human genetic variation.

"The resulting data will allow assessment of how human genetic variation influences the activities of biological networks in cell-based models of disease," NHLBI explained in the funding request.

"Addressing this goal will require a multidisciplinary approach, consisting of teams including, but not limited to, epidemiologists, clinicians, population geneticists, stem cell and molecular biologists, and bioinformaticians," said NHBLI.

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