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NIGMS to Provide $2.4M for New Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institute of General Medical Sciences plans to spend up to $2.4 million in 2015 to fund the Pharmacogenomics Knowledge Base (PharmGKB), a program that supports pharmacogenomics researchers, and has opened a new competition for applicants seeking to run the resource, NIGMS said Friday.

NIGMS first funded the PharmGKB in 2000, and it was developed and has been managed since its launch by Stanford University. The program's aim was to create a resource that would support scientists working with the Pharmacogenomics Research Network by providing information about dosing guidelines, drug labels, clinically actionable gene-drug associations, and genotype-phenotype relationships.

PharmGKB collects, curates, and disseminates this information, which comes from many sources, and it has built up relationships with other pharmacogenomics resources and helped to create data-sharing consortia. Some of the PharmGKB's activities have included the launch and management of the Clinical Implementation Pharmacogenetics Consortium, the Drug-specific Consortia in Pharmacogenomics, and other international consortia focused on specific drugs such as clopidogrel, tamoxifen, warfarin, and others.

Now that these programs have become well established, NIGMS said, the institute aims to spin them off into independent, self-supporting resources, so that the PharmGKB can focus solely on developing new ways to serve the needs of the pharmacogenomics research community.

In the funding announcement detailing the new competition, NIGMS said it plans to continue supporting only one PharmGKB.

NIGMS wants the PharmGKB to be specialized enough to "spur the solution of modern research problems at the interface of drugs, genomes, and diseases," and to buttress other National Institutes of Health-funded genomic medicine and pharmacogenomics research.

"PharmGKB must be poised to move from individual analysis of genes, drugs, and pathways towards developing and applying knowledge in new and larger throughput ways," NIGMS said. It will not simply be a large data repository, but will "judiciously choose what to store and how to operate on data to advance pharmacogenomics knowledge."

NIGMS expects the PharmGKB to be well-curated and routinely updated, and it will offer computational tools and resources that help researchers interpret genomes sequences for drug response; provide formats for studying drug-gene-disease relationships; present the wide range of variation found in pharmacogenomic genes; integrate disparate types of data that are important for studying drug responses; visualize large-scale pharmacogenomics data sets; and develop algorithms that can extract important information from large data sets, among other activities.