This week, the National Institutes of Health awarded more than $14 million in grants to provide informatics support for two-year pilot project aimed at understanding how genetic variation impacts gene activity and its link to disease.
The Genotype-Tissue Expression, or GTEx, project is expected to result in resource that researchers can use to study hereditary disease risks as well as to establish a tissue biobank that can be used for future research efforts.
NIH awarded $11.4 million to the Broad Institute to serve as the laboratory, data analysis, and coordinating center, which "will be responsible for the overall coordination of GTEx activities and will serve as the molecular and statistical analysis laboratory."
In addition, NIH awarded $3.2 million to five teams that will develop statistical approaches in order to "maximize the usefulness of the unique data the GTEx will generate." The tools will be used to analyze RNA sequences and gene expression data generated by the different phases of the project.
These grants include:
•$642,000 to Nancy Cox and colleagues at the University of Chicago for a project titled, "Using the Transcriptome for Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms and Gene Annotation;"
•$662,000 to Emmanouil Dermitzakis and colleagues at the University of Geneva for a project titled, "Methods for High-Resolution Analysis of Genetic Effects on Gene Expression;"
•$594,000 to Jun Liu and colleagues at Harvard University for a project titled, "Epistatic and Cross Tissue Analysis for Human Gene Expression Traits;"
•$676,000 to Jonathan Pritchard, of the University of Chicago for a project titled, "Statistical Analysis of Gene eQTLs;"
•And $659,000 to Ivan Rusyn and colleagues of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for a project titled, "Facilitating GTEx, Disease and Gene-Environment Analyses via Fast Expression eQTL."
Furthermore, the National Center for Biotechnology Information will develop and host a database that will be used to store the data generated by the project.
When the database is completed, researchers will be able to view and download de-identified individual-level genotype, expression, and clinical data through NCBI’s Database of Genotypes and Phenotypes or dbGaP.
Additional genome browsers will also be supported to integrate and display GTEx data.
In addition to a computational group, GTEx is comprised of three biospecimen source sites, which will collect 30 to 50 tissue samples from 160 deceased donors.