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NIMH Pledges $7M to Create Center for Genomics of Mental Disorders

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) - The National Institute of Mental Health plans to start a Center for Genomic Studies on Mental Disorders and is currently taking applications for the program. NIMH will fund the center with $7 million in fiscal 2008, and applicants may request funding for up to five years.
The center will have several areas of focus, but it will have a strong emphasis on bioinformatics.
The center will aim to advance a long-term program NIMH started in the late 1980s, the Human Genetics Initiative, which focused on characterizing genetic vulnerabilities to schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and bipolar disorder. 
NIMH said the center requires expertise in molecular biology, “with a primary focus on the Epstein-Barr virus transformation of lymphocytes from fresh blood samples received from national and international sites to create contaminant-free cell lines,” as well as extraction of DNA from these cell lines.
The center’s bioinformatics research will be on the establishment of documented web-based data files that can be used for genetic analysis of mental disorders.
The center will study statistical genetics of complex diseases as well. This research will be aimed at developing algorithms and software for meta-analytic genetic studies and clustering and classification techniques. The research also will seek to develop novel statistical approaches that would allow results from multiple genomic scans to be analyzed jointly to fine map disease susceptibility loci.
The center’s computer and information sciences research will focus on data mining and knowledge discovery from genomic data on mental disorders by focusing on a cyberinfrastructure made of federal data repositories, computational resources, visualization environment, and a research network.
NIMH expects to award the grant in September of 2008. More information can be found here.