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NIH to Fund New Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Human Genome Research Institute plans to fund new Centers of Excellence in Genomic Sciences, or CEGS, which will use genomics in interdisciplinary studies to target and investigate particular biomedical problems, the National Institutes of Health said today.

NHGRI will partner with the National Institute of Mental Health to award grants of up to $2 million per year to fund the CEGS research programs. These centers may also request an additional $500,000 to purchase specialized equipment needed for the studies.

NHGRI launched the CEGS program in 2000, and NIMH joined it in 2001, to spur the advance of a wide range of genomics-based approaches and methods for addressing disorders and critical issues in genomic medicine. NIMH is particularly interested in supporting novel genomic approaches to understand the genetic basis of the nervous system and mental disorders.

Each of the grants will fund a multi-investigator, interdisciplinary team that will pursue high-risk, high-reward projects that aim to solve certain biomedical problems, solutions that would offer "a very substantial advance" in addressing those problems, according to NIH.

The teams will focus on particular genome-scale problems, on using genomics to better understand biological systems, and on developing new clinical applications.

Another goal of the CEGS grants is to nurture genomics at the institutions that win grants by spurring greater interdisciplinary interactions among researchers and by providing training to expand the pool of professional genomics scientists and engineers.

NHGRI and NIMH will consider funding these CEGS for up to 10 years. Due to the potential length of these awards, the institutes expect the by-products of these research projects will be made available to the genomics community during the life of the grant, and that these CEGS will be adaptable enough to incorporate new advances that take place in their respective research areas over the duration of the funding.

Currently funded CEGS include Harvard University's Center for Causal Transcriptional Consequences of Human Genetic Variation; Johns Hopkins University's Center for the Epigenetics of Common Human Disease; the Wisconsin CEGS at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; the Center for Integrated Systems Genomics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the Center for Cell Circuits at the Broad Institute; the USC CEGS at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles; and the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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