NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have pocketed $4.8 million from the National Human Genome Research Institute to coordinate a number of genome-wide association studies being conducted at research institutes across the country, the Hutch said yesterday.
Under the four-year program, UW and the Hutch will provide statistical and data-management support and services to research teams comparing genetic profiles of individuals with diseases to controls in order to identify the site of genes contributing to the disease.
"This is a first step in determining the genetic basis of disease and is necessary for the development of therapies and eventual cures," Lon Cardon, a UW biostatistics professor and co-director of the Computational Biology Program, said in a statement.
Cardon, who is also a member of the Human Biology Division at the Hutch, recently led statistical analysis efforts for whole-genome studies of diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and coronary heart disease conducted by the Wellcome Trust.
"The recent discovery of 21 new disease gene associations from the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium offers great hope for success from these new NHGRI studies," Cardon said.
UW and the Hutch said these studies will provide information about the “non-gene sequences that comprise 98 percent of the genome” and that “contain instructions for switching genes on or off, or control how DNA is packaged and replicated within a cell.” The researchers intend to find out if some of these functional elements of DNA sequences are implicated in disease.
The UW and the Hutch will coordinate genome-wide association studies being performed at John Hopkins University for the International Consortium to Identify Genes and Interactions Controlling Oral Clefts; Washington University School of Medicine, for the Study of Addiction: Genetics and Environment; the University of Texas Health Science Center, for Genome-wide Association for Gene-environment Interaction Effects Influencing; the National Cancer Institute, for a Genome-wide Association in a Population-based Lung Cancer Study; Harvard University, for Genes and Environment Initiatives in Type 2 Diabetes; Northwestern University, for Genome-wide Association Mapping: Maternal Metabolism-birth Weight Interactions; the University of Pittsburgh, for Dental Caries, Whole Genome Association and Gene and Environment Studies; and the University of Iowa, for Genome-wide Association Studies of Prematurity and Its Complications.