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NIH Launches Two Initiatives to Determine Genetic Causes of Disease; Pfizer and Affy to Play Role

NEW YORK, Feb. 8 (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institutes of Health will funnel the $68 million allocated   in President Bush's proposed 2007 budget for genetic research into a Genes and Environment Initiative, employing SNP analysis and technology development to understand the causes of common diseases, US Health and Human Services announced today.

 

In addition, HHS, which oversees the NIH, said it was launching a public-private partnership called the Genetic Association Information Network to accelerate genome association studies. Entities in the partnership are NIH, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Pfizer, and Affymetrix.

 

GEI

 

If approved by Congress, the federal funding would begin in FY 2007 and continue for multiple years, HHS said. Of the first year's funding, $26 million will go to genetic analysis and $14 million for the development of tools to measure environmental exposures affecting health.

 

Genotyping studies performed as part of the initiative will be done for several dozen common diseases to be selected by peer review. The genotyping, which will begin in FY 2007, will be managed by an NIH coordinating committee under the usual government rules, subject to competition between research facilities.

 

GAIN

 

The primary private-sector contributor to the GAIN partnership is Pfizer, which has donated $5 million to set up the project's management structure and committed $15 million worth of laboratory studies to determine the genetic contributions to five common diseases. Affymetrix will contribute lab resources for two additional diseases, expected to cost about $3 million each, said HHR. Affymetrix would not confirm the financial amount of its in-kind contribution.

 

Genotyping supported by Pfizer and donated to the GAIN project will be produced by Perlegen and will start in late summer 2006, according to the statement. A similar arrangement will be worked out with Affymetrix.

 

The GAIN initiative proposes to raise $60 million in private funding for additional genetic studies of common diseases and is actively seeking additional partners.

 

Investigators may submit applications to have genotyping performed on existing DNA samples from patients with specific diseases and control individuals in case-control studies. Eligibility and online submission procedures will be posted here.

 

GAIN will be an FNIH-managed partnership that includes NIH, industry, foundations, individuals, and advocacy groups. Governance will include and executive committee, a steering committee and peer review and data access committees.

 

The NationalCenter for Biotechnology Information at NIH will develop databases to manage the genetic, medical and environmental information resulting from these initiatives. All data will be placed in the public domain.

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