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NIH to Cultivate PGx-Trained Scientists

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health wants to address what it sees as a lack of researchers who are cross-trained in pharmacogenomics and a range of life sciences disciplines by funding grants to train researchers in this newly expanding area.

NIH has set aside $1.5 million to support awards in 2012 that will be used to train early-stage scientists who will go on to find ways to apply pharmacogenomics knowledge and integrate it into personalized medicine practice.

“Cross-trained individuals who understand aspects of clinical practice, genetics and genomics, pharmacology and drug science, statistics, and epidemiology and/or clinical trial design are rare,” NIH said in its funding announcement.

This program will give up to $200,000 per year for up to three years in direct costs in order to fund as many as six Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Awards.

“We observed a gap in the career training pathway for the next generation of advanced translational clinician-researchers in pharmacogenomics,” Rochelle Long, Chief of the Pharmacological & Physiological Sciences Branch at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, told GenomeWeb Daily News in an e-mail.

Long described the program, called Translational Scholar Career Awards in Pharmacogenomics and Personalized Medicine, as an effort to “address the scarcity of investigators who have been cross-trained in both clinical research core competencies and modern methods that address pharmacogenomics research questions in patient populations.”

The program will provide mentored patient-oriented research career development awards that are focused on this need and will specifically encourage collaborations between the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN) and the Clinical and Translational Science Awards Consortium (CTSA). Dual mentors from these organizations will be required.

PGRN groups are using genomics tools to uncover the genetic basis of disease and drug response mechanisms to identify molecular targets for new treatments, and the CTSA program aims to incorporate expertise in pharmacogenomics in the discovery phases of lab science and in the testing of new therapies in clinical trials.

“This award program should begin to increase the number of successful early stage investigators in this field within the next" five to six years, Long explained. The success of the program can be evaluated as supported individuals move on to complete their career development and apply for independent NIH research awards.”

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