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NHLBI to Fund Development of Phenotype Data Mapping Tool

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Because massive volumes of genomic data stored in repositories can present "challenging" obstacles to researchers who are seeking specific phenotypic data in their disease areas, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has pledged $5 million to support researchers in their efforts to create phenotypic maps for identifying useful data sets.

The aim of the Phenotype Finder IN Data Resources (PFINDR) grant is to create an informatics tool that will support cross-study data discoveries that will be widely available for researchers using phenotype data from genomic studies, such as genome-wide association and sequencing studies.

The initial, two-year pilot phase will enable researchers to implement phenotype mappings in their focus areas, which could include heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, using the National Institutes of Health's dbGaP database or another resource. That phase will be funded with $2 million for 2011 and 2012.

The second phase will use $3 million for 2013 through 2015 to scale-up the new tools and will fund the project that has been shown to be the most useful approach to phenotype mapping.

The PFINDR program is aimed at using innovative metadata and text-mining approaches for data mining and visualization applications that can help researchers find relevant genomic studies within vast genomic data repositories. Biomedical investigators and bioinformatics experts would use the tool, which would have searching and mapping functions, to identify a subset of likely studies that they could look at more closely for information relevant to their disease areas.

NHLBI also hopes that PFINDR would eventually be useful far beyond heart, lung, blood, and sleep variables, and that it could be expanded to other scientific domains or databases.

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