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NIH Awards $50.3M to Establish Multiomics Consortium

NEW YORK – The National Institutes of Health announced on Tuesday that it will award $50.3 million over five years to establish a new consortium for multiomics research on human health and disease.

The agency will award approximately $11 million in the first year of funding, and the project will be funded jointly by the National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Cancer Institute, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

"Multiomics studies are at the forefront of biomedical research and promise to advance our understanding of disease onset and progression," Erin Ramos, deputy director of NHGRI's Division of Genomic Medicine, said in a statement. "This new consortium is an important step in making those advances a reality."

Approximately half of the funding will support the work of six disease study sites investigating fatty liver diseases, hepatocellular carcinoma, asthma, chronic kidney disease, preeclampsia, and other conditions, the NIH said.

At least three quarters of the enrolled research participants will be from ancestral backgrounds that are underrepresented in genomics research, the agency added, noting that the study sites will also collect data on participants' environment and social determinants of health that will be used alongside the multiomics data to piece together a fuller picture of disease risk and outcomes.

The consortium's omics production center will process participants' specimens using high-throughput molecular assays to generate genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, proteomic, and metabolomic data that will be analyzed to generate molecular profiles of disease and non-disease states. The data will then be incorporated into large, organized datasets that will be made available to the scientific community for further study.

"Beyond gaining insights into individual diseases, the primary goal of this consortium is to develop scalable and generalizable multiomics research strategies as well as methods to analyze these large and complex datasets," Joannella Morales, an NHGRI program director involved in leading the consortium, said in a statement.

The principal investigators of the disease study sites are Louise Laurent at the University of California, San Diego; Krzysztof Kiryluk at Columbia University; Stephanie Christenson at the University of California, San Francisco; Vaia Lida Chatzi at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine; Tanika Kelly at Tulane University; and Joseph McCormick at the University of Texas Health Science Center.

The omics production center will be located at Washington University in St. Louis and led by Gary Patti, while the data analysis and coordinating center will be at the University of Massachusetts Chan Medical School and led by Zhiping Weng.