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Morehouse Gets $13.3M from NIH for Genomic Database

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institutes of Health has awarded $13.3 million in funding to the Morehouse School of Medicine to start a multi-institutional collaboration to create and maintain a database of genetic and other health information about minority populations, Morehouse said Thursday.

The initial aim of the project is to create a database that will be used to study why minority patients suffer from a "more virulent clinical course of hypertension and its complications, such as stroke," but will be expanded to look into other diseases that affect minorities.

The Minority Health Genomic and Translational Research Bio-Repository Database (MH-GRID) will start in the Southeast, which has the highest incidence of high blood pressure and stroke among African-Americans.

The MH-GRID will be used for long-term research and short-term studies for finding new, and more personalized, treatment and prevention methods by allowing scientists and healthcare providers to harness the genetic, social, and economic factors connected to disease.

The MH-GRID will use DNA sequencing to create a catalogue of genomic data on African-American patients that over the long term will be used to develop more personalized treatments and predictive tools, enabling physicians to identify patients who are at risk for hypertension and who may benefit from treatments for complications such as stroke, heart failure, or kidney failure.

"The persistence of health disparities in medically underserved minority communities remains one of the most vexing public health problems facing our nation," Gary Gibbons, MSM chairman of the Department of Physiology and director of the Cardiovascular Research Institute, said in a statement.

Gibbons added that the MH-GRID "will enable clinicians to establish more effective treatments based on 'point-of-care' access to health information that takes into consideration the patient's biological, social, and environmental determinants of health."

The project will build on MSM's infrastructure that is funded by NIH's Research Centers for Minority Institutions (RCMI) program, the Atlanta Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and partners at Emory University, Grady Memorial Hospital System, and Kaiser Permanente Georgia, Hooker said.

Other collaborators include the University of Washington, Jackson State University, Baylor College of Medicine, the Jackson Heart Study, Jackson-Hinds Clinic, and Stanford University.

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