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NHGRI Sets Aside $3M to Fund Analysis of Data From Genome Sequencing Program Studies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has earmarked $3 million to kick off the Genome Sequencing Program Analysis Centers (GSPAC), which represents the fourth arm of the agency's Genome Sequencing Program (GSP).

According to a request for applications posted to NHGRI's website last week, the money will be used to fund up to four projects that analyze data produced by the GSP.

In 2011, NHGRI revamped the GSP, which conducts research into genes and genomic variants underlying inherited disease, to focus on programs designed to accelerate the clinical application of genome sequence data.

Thus far, the GSP has three components: the Centers for Mendelian Genomics (CMG), which is tasked with identifying causal genes for Mendelian conditions; the Centers for Common Disease Genomics Initiative (CCDG), a large-scale sequencing effort to identify rare gene variants that contribute to the risk for or protection from common diseases; and the Genome Sequencing Program Coordinating Center, which is responsible for coordinating GSP activities and facilitating interaction between its participants.

Last week, NHGRI announced that it is establishing the GSPAC to undertake computational analyses that "take advantage of the range and volume of the data" being produced by the GSP as a whole. These analyses, the institute added, are expected to "explore areas that cut across the individual projects and grants that are the primary data producing constituents of the overall GSP."

Under the GSPAC funding opportunity, NHGRI also aims to support research that is broadly applicable to the interpretation of genomic sequencing studies for understanding the biology of disease without being limited to any particular disease. Funded projects are also expected to use all or a substantial portion of the diverse data generated by the CMG and/or CCDG.

NHGRI said that it is specifically seeking applications that propose both investigator-driven and program-driven activities.

The former involves "significant, novel high-level analyses and development of related methods for all non-automated aspects of characterizing sequence variants in the data, after variant calling."

NHGRI said it has particular interest in identifying associations between variants and disease phenotypes; analyses using existing functional data to leverage associations and/or to make functional inferences; means to improve study design; and other higher level analyses. As such, funded programs are expected to focus on one of more of these topics, the institute noted.

Meanwhile, program-driven activities are expected to help meet two of the GSP's overall goals — identifying when a common, complex disease study is comprehensive, and providing specifications for a set of common controls for such studies.

NHGRI will begin accepting applications and letters of intent on July 25. All applications must be submitted by August 25. The institute anticipates funded research programs beginning in March 2016, at the earliest.

Additional information on this funding opportunity can be found here.