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NIH Seeking Applications for Genome Centers for All of Us Research Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health recently issued a funding announcement soliciting applications from large-scale genome centers that can generate genotyping and whole-genome sequencing data on 1 million participants enrolled in the All of Us Research program.

The goal of the All of Us Research Program is to collect in a longitudinal fashion a variety of data, including genomic, medical, and environmental, and use that to fuel research and advance precision medicine. The project is currently in beta phase to refine the project's protocols for giving consent, sharing electronic health records, and donating biological samples.

NIH issued this funding announcement in anticipation of a spring launch of the All of Us Research project.

The genome centers involved in the project will have to have facilities in the US and will be expected to develop the capacity to conduct up to 200,000 genome-wide assays per year; generate high-quality genotyping and genome sequence data; provide comprehensive variant data that will go through analysis workflows for returning certain results to participants; advance technologies and approaches for population-scale genomics analysis; establish collaborations among investigators working on the genomics platform, and guide the overall strategic direction of the effort.

Applicants will have to have prior experience in large-scale genotyping, genomic sequencing, and analysis. Specifically, the NIH is looking for applicants that can immediately start running 50,000 high-density arrays and is asking applicants to describe how they would ramp up to at least 100,000 genotyping assays per year. The NIH is also expecting centers to be able to start conducting 10,000 WGS assays per year and present a plan for ramping up to 100,000 WGS assays per year.

These centers will need to employ workflows that enable high-confidence calling of all variant types ― single nucleotide variants, small insertions/deletions, larger structural variants ― and establish a pipeline that securely transmits data to the All of Us Data and Research Center. The NIH wants genome centers to have genome analysis and variant calling resources to process more than 100,000 genome-wide assays yearly; operate a CLIA lab; describe their processes for interpreting the clinical significance of variants; and have enough computer storage and infrastructure to securely transmit more than 100,000 genome-wide data sets per year.

The All of Us genomics platform will also have a clinical validation laboratory that will verify certain clinically actionable variants using CLIA/CAP-certified assays and generate a clinical report for participants. "Capabilities to operate the clinical validation laboratory will be an optional project element in applications for Genome Centers," the NIH said in the funding announcement.

Applications are due by July 2018, though a specific date was not given, with an earliest estimated start date of September 2018.