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NIH All of Us Research Program to Fund Genetic Counseling Resource

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health's All of Us Research Program has issued a funding opportunity for a genetic counseling resource to support participants who receive genomic testing and receive results.

The project, which plans to sequence the genomes of one million participants, intends to invest in research into how to provide genetic counseling on such a large scale. In September, the NIH awarded $28.6 million to establish three genome centers led by Baylor College of Medicine, the Broad Institute, and the University of Washington, which will generate and analyze genomic data from biosamples contributed by participants in the program.

The next step is to create a genetic counseling resource. "Genomic data can include important health information, such as how a person might respond to a medicine or whether they are at heightened risk for a specific disease," and genomic counseling services will be important in addressing participants' concerns and questions, the NIH said in announcing the funding opportunity.

Applications are due Feb. 1, 2019, and the agency expects to announce the winners  on April 15. The NIH said the awardees will be responsible for establishing a network of genetic counselors, delivering results and especially clinically actionable findings to participants who wish to know, providing computer and telephonic counseling services for participants and their doctors, and advancing tools to enable population-wide education and counseling.

The NIH plans to fund two, five-year awards to build this resource. Applicants can request up to $2 million in direct costs for the first year, with future funds adjusted based on counseling demand and available resources.

Applications will be judged based on experience, technical approach, and strategy for scaling services. The NIH said it will favor applicants with experience in providing counseling services throughout the US and to diverse and disadvantaged communities.