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German State of Lower Saxony, Volkswagen Foundation Provide €15M for Rare Disease Research

NEW YORK – The Ministry of Science and Culture of the German state of Lower Saxony and the Volkswagen Foundation are jointly providing €15 million ($16.3 million) in funding for basic research to improve the diagnostic and therapeutic options for rare diseases, the foundation said on Friday.

"The use of innovative gene therapy, modern personalized medicine, advanced bioinformatics, and artificial intelligence opens up new possibilities for optimizing diagnoses and therapies for rare diseases," Falko Mohrs, Lower Saxony's minister of science, said in a statement. "Our research contributes directly to long-term improvements to the quality of life of those affected and their families."

Potential areas of research include high-throughput sequencing and genotyping of patient cohorts to identify biomarkers; law and ethics regarding medical and research data for rare diseases; AI, machine learning, and innovative imaging; xRNA-based therapeutic approaches such as antisense oligonucleotide therapies; innovative approaches to acquiring and processing biomedical data such as AI and neural networks; innovative diagnostic approaches; gene therapeutics; and multiomic approaches to rare disease research.

According to the request for applications, individual and collaborative research projects in areas including personalized medicine, biomedicine, biotechnology, bioinformatics, and data science are eligible to apply for up to €3 million for single projects and up to €7.5 million for collaborative projects, each for up to five years. Applications are due June 30, 2024.