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New Initiative to Boost Use of Genomics at NIH Clinical Center

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – In an effort to expand the use of genomics in disease research at the National Institutes of Health's Clinical Center, NIH has created a new initiative that will provide investigators with DNA sequencing and analysis of 1,000 exomes over the next two years.

The Clinical Center Genomics Opportunity (CCGO), set to launch this summer, will provide successful applicants from its intramural research at the Clinical Center with 50 to 300 exome sequences derived from patient samples.

The National Human Genome Research Institute will provide the next-generation sequencing services through the Intramural Sequencing Center, and the samples will be collected from the Clinical Center, NHGRI said yesterday. Investigators who receive data through the CCGO also will receive help with handling the resulting data and with interpreting and returning the genetic results to patients.

Only a few clinical research projects in the NIH intramural program have used exome sequencing to data; most have relied on clinically observable or phenotype information, followed up with the targeted sequencing of specific candidate genes. Although intramural researchers across NIH are working with various genomics technologies, not all of them who want access to these tools or infrastructure have had the budget to do so. The CCGO will make this possible by offsetting the costs of sequencing by using funds from the NIH Office of Intramural Research, and the Intramural Sequencing Center will provide discounts for the CCGO projects, NHGRI said.

"We're trying to jump-start genomic medicine," Michael Gottesman, NIH's deputy director for intramural research, said in a statement. "We first need to build an infrastructure for clinical genomic sequencing that can be used by researchers in their projects at the NIH Clinical Center."

"We want the Clinical Center to be at the forefront of individualized genomic medicine," added Leslie Biesecker, chief of NHGRI's Medical Genomics and Metabolic Genetics Branch. "Use of exome data is the way to get a toe-hold in this field and develop those capabilities. Then the practice of genomic medicine at the Clinical Center can evolve over time so that it becomes both more generalized and more useful for researchers and patients."