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NIH to Pump $161M into PGx Research

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health will provide $161.3 million in funding to expand a nationwide effort to advance personalized medicine through the use of pharmacogenomics, NIH said today.

The five-year investment in expanding the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), which was launched in 2000 by the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, will continue funding research into genetic variants linked to responses to a range of medicines for cancer, heart disease, asthma, and addiction and will include new areas of study such as rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder.

The new funding will support 14 scientific research projects and seven network resources, and it will fund development of research methods to study and use pharmacogenetics in rural and underserved populations.

"Thanks to breakthroughs in genome sequencing technologies and our growing understanding of genetic variation among individuals, there has never been a better time to propel the field of pharmacogenomics," NIH Director Francis Collins said in a statement.

"Through these studies, we are moving closer to the goal of using genetic information to help prescribe the safest, most effective medicine for each patient," added Collins.

These new awards will include funding for deep DNA sequencing, piloting ways to use de-identified medical records to develop pharmacogenomics, expanding a collaboration with the Center for Genomic Medicine at the RIKEN Institute in Japan, and other efforts.

"We've been part of the PGRN for 10 years," St. Jude Children's Research's Pharmaceutical Sciences Chair Mary Relling said in a statement. St. Jude was one of the research entities to win a grant under the new funding round.

"But now, we will be the only PGRN group to focus on children, and we are partnering with NCI's Children's Oncology Group. We will be able to comprehensively study children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, and we are moving some pharmacogenetic testing into real patient care," Relling said.

The grants to the research groups include:

• $11.9 million to the University of California for research into the pharmacogenomics of membrane transporters;

• $9.8 million to the University of Florida, Gainesville, for research into the pharmacogenomic evaluation of antihypertensive responses;

• $6.4 million to the University of California, San Diego, for pharmacogenomics of mood stabilizer response in bipolar disorder;

• $9.4 million to the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute for research into the pharmacogenomics and risk of cardiovascular disease;

• $12 million to the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Toronto for studies of the pharmacogenetics of nicotine addiction treatment;

• $7.5 million to Brigham and Women's Hospital to study genetic predictors of response to anti-TNF therapy in rheumatoid arthritis, plus another $9.8 million for research into the pharmacogenetics of asthma treatment.

• $10.3 million to the University of Chicago to the Pharmacogenomics of Anticancer Agents Research Group;

• $8.6 million to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to study the pharmacogenomics of anticancer agents research in children;

• $12.4 million to Vanderbilt University School of Medicine to research the pharmacogenomics of arrhythmia therapy;

• $9.1 million to Ohio State University for research into expression genetics in drug therapy;

• $11.4 million to the University of Maryland, Baltimore, for studies of the pharmacogenomics of anti-platelet intervention;

• $10.2 million to the University of Washington to research pharmacogenetics in rural and underserved populations;

• $11.2 million to Mayo Clinic to research the pharmacogenetics of Phase II drug metabolizing enzymes.

Grants for network resources funded under the new PGRN expansion include:

• $3.2 million for the Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics at the University of California, San Francisco;

• $2.3 million for next-generation DNA sequencing to Baylor College of Medicine;

• $3 million for next-generation sequencing to Washington University, St. Louis;

• $3.9 million for human exome resequencing to the University of Washington School of Medicine;

• $2.4 million for a PGRN statistical analysis resource at Vanderbilt University;

• $3.4 million for pharmacogenomic discovery and replication in very large populations at Vanderbilt University Medical Center;

• $3.4 million to for a pharmacogenomic ontology network resource to Mayo Clinic.

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