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First Genetic Trust and Howard University to Develop Biobank for Persons of African Descent

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First Genetic Trust and Howard University College of Medicine announced this week a partnership to develop a biobank of genetic and biological information from individuals of African descent, the Genomic Research in the African Diaspora Biobank.

The program will seek to enroll about 25,000 persons of African descent over five years, asking them to provide biological samples, medical history, and genetic data for diseases “of significant importance,” the university said. Participants will be recruited from Howard University College of Medicine’s clinics and physician networks, and eventually the recruitment is slated to be expanded through the university’s alumni networks to locations around the world.

The Biobank will use both the genotyping sequencing facilities at Howard’s National Human Genome Center, and First Genetic Trust’s enTrust genetic banking system, which is web-based and developed for large-scale genetic biobanking.

“Persons of African descent have been chronically underrepresented in clinical research, have suffered significantly higher rates of certain diseases, and have exhibited different efficacy responses to medicines, as well as different adverse drug event profiles, than other ethnic groups,” Arthur Holden, chairman and CEO of FGT, said in a statement. “We are confident that this partnership will create a highly valuable resource for the global genetic and clinical research community, and ultimately, for patients of African descent.”

First Genetic Trust is based in Chicago.

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