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Broad Nabs $40M From NHLBI for Large-Scale Whole-Genome Sequencing Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The Broad Institute today said that the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has awarded it about $40 million to provide large-scale whole-genome sequencing to 20,000 individuals. 

The project is part of NHLBI's Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed) program and will be the first step toward a larger initiative to use whole-genome sequencing for discoveries in complex disease. Such discoveries, the Broad said, will serve as a resource to investigate factors that influence disease risk, identify disease subtypes, and develop more targeted and personalized treatments. 

In addition to sequencing the individuals, the Broad will provide data in support of small pilot projects in transcriptome sequencing and metabolite profiling. 

TOPMed supports the NHLBI's precision medicine initiative and couples whole-genome sequencing and other omics data with molecular, behavioral, imaging, environmental, and clinical data from studies focused on heart, lung, blood, and sleep disorders, according to NHLBI's website. 

Stacey Gabriel, senior director of the Broad Institute Genomics Platform, said that the Broad is well-suited to meet the challenges of the TOPMed program, as it has sequenced thousands of individuals from the Framingham Heart Study and patients with atrial fibrillation in the first phase of TOPMed. "Now we will be able to seamlessly scale to enable these new large projects to directly benefit studies in the genetics of disease," she said. 

The Broad added that it has significantly expanded its sequencing capabilities in order to meet increasing demand. The TOPMed project, along with other initiatives, will require the production of about 35,000 genomes during the next year, more than doubling the 14,375 genomes that it has completed during the past 12 months.