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US-China Biomedical Program to Fund Collaborative Genomics Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health and the National Natural Science Foundation of China will jointly fund collaborative projects between scientists in the US and China that pursue research areas of interest to both nations, including a range of studies involving genomics and genetics.

These projects will be funded under the US-China Program for Biomedical Collaborative Research, which was created through an agreement struck between NIH and NSFC in late 2010 to stimulate collaborative basic, translational, and applied research between scientists in the US and China.

The disease areas targeted by the two countries include allergy, immunology, infectious diseases, cancer, stroke, mental health, Parkinson's disease, and HIV/AIDS.

Both the NIH and NSFC have allocated funding for the projects, including $5 million from NIH in 2013 to fund between four and eight grants at each of the four institutes that are participating in the collaboration.

US and Chinese investigators seeking funding under the program are expected to work together to submit corresponding applications to NIH and NSFC.

Under the collaboration, the National Cancer Institute will support studies on the links between cancer and infectious and rare diseases, including human papillomavirus, Epstein Barr Virus, and others. These infection-related cancer projects may involve genomic studies, epigenetic studies, micriobiome research, and efforts to develop screening and early detection strategies, among others.

Projects funded by the National Institute of Mental Health could include efforts to identify biomarkers for predicting, diagnosing, and treating mental disorders, autism studies that focus on genomics, early detection, and development of treatments, and improvements in molecular and stem cell techniques for studying mental disorders.

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease will fund projects focused on host response to infections, including studies to define biomarkers of protective immune responses, and studies of infectious diseases that focus on antimicrobial resistance and immune responses to infectious diseases or vaccines.

The National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke will support collaborative studies focused on Parkinson's disease and stroke, including comparative studies to distinguish genetic or epigenetic mechanisms, the impact of environmental risk factors for disease for specific subtypes, and research into biomarkers of disease mechanisms and progression.

The US-China program also will fund studies of HIV/AIDS, particularly research into the epidemiologic impact of HIV on tuberculosis, and interactions between the two infections.

These projects could include genotypic and phenotypic characterization studies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and studies to develop biomarkers to predict treatment outcomes in HIV/TB co-infection and the risk of reactivation of the disease, and biomarkers of immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in HIV/TB co-infection.