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NIH Seeks Sequencing Centers for Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Program

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has announced that it is seeking one or two genome sequencing centers to generate data on patient samples in support of the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Program.

The program, which was launched by President Barack Obama in 2014, is allocated $126 million in funding over 10 years to advance pediatric cancer research through the creation of a genomic and phenotypic data resource for the medical community.

In 2015, the NIH issued its first funding opportunity under the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research initiative, calling for applications for research projects to identify and collect DNA samples from patients with childhood cancers or structural birth defects for genomic sequencing.

Under the newly announced funding opportunity, the NIH is seeking applications from institutes to use these and other samples collected from initiative participants to generate whole-genome sequence and variant data for inclusion in the Kids First Data Resource.

"This resource will allow data mining across diverse conditions to uncover shared developmental pathways," the agency said. "The overall goal is to help researchers understand the underlying mechanisms of disease, leading to more refined diagnostic capabilities and ultimately more targeted therapies or interventions." 

The sequencing centers are expected to work closely with the researchers who are obtaining the samples, as well as a planned Kids First Data Resource administrative center that will oversee the program. "The activities to be coordinated include, but are not limited to, establishing data standards and formats, data transfer, as well as public release of sequence, variant, and phenotypic data," the NIH said in the FOA.

The agency added that it expects high-quality sequence and variant data to be generated from the largest number of cases and samples possible with available funds. "It is anticipated that costs will decrease over the course of the award while data quality is maintained or improved, so the number of cases that can be sequenced and analyzed per dollar spent is expected to increase," it noted.

The NIH expects to provide the sequencing center or centers with $12.6 million in fiscal 2016, and as much as $8 million in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. Applications are due Mar. 31, with funded research expected to begin in September. 

Additional details about the funding opportunity can be found here.