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NIH Tabs $5.7M for New Clinical Sequencing Research Projects

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health plans to award $5.7 million in funding for research projects that explore ways to use genome sequencing in clinical care, and $800,000 to fund a coordinating center to support these studies.

The Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) grants and the coordinating center will seek to study in clinical settings how genomic sequence data can be used in patient care, how well those treatment applications function, and how the results are interpreted and used by doctors and patients.

Researchers receiving CSER funding also will be expected to include a component that tackles the ethical, legal, social, and psychological implications of using genomic information in patient care.

The CSER grants will be funded with $4.7 million from the National Human Genome Research Institute and $1 million from the National Institute on Drug Abuse for a total of five awards, and NHGRI will provide $800,000 for one coordinating center award.

As GenomeWeb Daily News reported earlier this month, these CSER grants are a continuation of a program that has already provided $40 million to fund five clinical sequencing research projects.

"We had a really strong response to [the first] RFA," NHGRI Program Director Brad Ozenberger told GWDN in an interview this month. "There's a real interest in this area in the community, so we decided to reissue the RFA and expand this consortium.

"We expected that there would be a good response, but it exceeded our expectations," he said. "There is just a lot of activity right now with next-gen sequencing and trying to move some of those technologies into medical care, so this RFA really hit a hot button."

The CSER grants are aimed at supporting studies that can serve as a foundation upon which later research can build the infrastructure and methods required to make the use of individual genetic data more routine in clinical care.

Such efforts will require that large portions of patients' genomes be sequenced and analyzed. These projects may include using high-coverage sequencing of targeted genomic regions, targeted whole exome sequencing, or whole genome sequencing.

Applications for these grants will need to have three components: a study design with a clinical rationale, analysis and interpretation of sequence data, and research into the ethical and psychosocial implications of using and communicating or not communicating genetic data in these clinical settings.

The coordinating center will assist the CSER research groups in the release of phenotype and genomic data via NIH resources and help them assure compliance with NIH privacy and patient protection policies. The center also will serve as a repository for aggregate genomic findings and summary data derived from the CSER grants.

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