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NIAMS to Fund Studies of Genes, Variants that Influence Disease Risk

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases plans to fund research that will use data from genome-wide association studies to discover genes and variants that influence the risk for certain diseases, according to a new funding announcement.

NIAMS will use two grant mechanisms to fund a range of projects to discover causal genes and variants found in human genomic regions that have been associated with diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, scleroderma, ankylosing spondylitis, osteoarthritis, and other diseases in the institute's crosshairs.

One of the programs will award grants of up to $1.4 million over four years, providing no more than $350,000 per year, and the other will award grants of up to $275,000 over two years.

These grants will not fund original genome-wide association sequencing projects, rather they will support follow-up studies looking into genomic regions already identified by GWAS. The funding will support further and more detailed sequencing efforts aimed at those genomic regions, genotyping, analyses, and other costs, however.

"While GWAS in a number of areas have yielded promising results, follow-up studies are needed to translate initial findings of GWAS into the biological insights that could lead to predictive, diagnostic, and therapeutic advances," NIAMS said in the funding announcement.

NIAMS expects that these studies may involve multidisciplinary collaborations, because few groups can provide the knowledge required in a range of areas, such as genetics, molecular biology, cell physiology, and others.

These grants will fund research involving, but not limited to, fine mapping and sequencing of targeted human genomic regions; studies of gene-gene and gene-environment interactions; integrative analyses of multidimensional datasets, such as genetics, genomics, proteomics, phenomics, and others; and comprehensive approaches to molecular phenotyping, functional genomics, and development of high-throughput assays for small molecule drug screens.