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HudsonAlpha Wins $12.4M in NIH Grants for Population Genomics, Pediatric Sequencing

NEW YORK – The HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology has been awarded two separate multi-million-dollar grants from the National Institutes of Health to further its efforts in population-level clinical genomics and pediatric sequencing for disease research and diagnosis.

Shawn Levy, a faculty investigator and the founding director of the Genomic Services Laboratory at HudsonAlpha, is the principal investigator on both grants, which started in late September.

The first grant, worth approximately $7 million over the next year, is being funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, and will support HudsonAlpha's efforts to apply long-read sequencing technologies to about 6,000 patient samples as part of the NIH's All of Us research program, according to an NIH statement.

More specifically, NIH said, the project will enable researchers to "better determine the value of long-read sequencing and its strengths and limitations in exploring more elusive parts of the genome." Combined with the 1 million whole-genome sequences the program already plans to deliver over the next several years, this additional genetic information will provide the research community "with the largest collection of genomic structural variation data and clinical data ever produced," NIH said.

The second grant, administered by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, is worth approximately $5.4 million in the next year with the expectation of similar annual funding through 2022, Levy said.

Under this grant, HudsonAlpha will continue efforts begun with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to generate and analyze high-quality sequence and variant data from pediatric cancer and birth defect cohorts over the next three years as part of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Program.

Specifically, the HudsonAlpha-St. Jude Genome Sequencing Center (HASJ-GSC) will generate WGS and variant data for all samples received through the program, in addition to RNA-seq and whole-exome data for the pediatric cancer samples.

The combined genome, exome, and RNA-seq data will provide as much resolution as possible to understand the genetic and functional genomic changes observed in pediatric cancer, Levy's team noted in a grant abstract. The HASJ-GSC will also provide support for a comprehensive collection of additional methodologies such as long read, lined-long read, and RNA-seq, the researchers noted.