UW part of .4 billion dollar, four year mega effort in genomics.

These large scale efforts are controversial in an era of restricted funding because they are expected to produce a huge benefit in new leads for focused research but cost money that is hard to come by in these hard times. Moreover, by necessity, work in these large centers is team based while the history of science is largely one of individual innovation. The effect is especially worrisome to young investigators seeking their first grants.

NIH Plans $416-Million for Genomics Research

 The NIH  will spend $416 million over the next four years in its version of “big science.”  Most of this underwrites  large-scale sequencing programs at the Broad Institute in Massachusetts, the Genome Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, the Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, the University of Washington at Seattle, Yale University, the Johns Hopkins University, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, in Boston, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The portion most relevant to the UW , called the Mendelian Disorders Genome Centers Program, will receive $48 million over four years. This focuses on lcassical, single gene diseases like sickle cell and cystic fibrosis.   $5.2 million per year will go to the Center for Mendelian Genomics at the University of Washington

UW will also receive $2.3 million per year to fund research into ways for doctors to use sequencing information in the clinical setting.

Yet another new program will focus on meeting the need to create new software programs that investigators can use to analyze massive volumes of genome sequencing data.

The Mendelian disorders centers will collaborate with a network of rare disease experts to gather samples and sequence genomes to identify variants for disorders.These centers already have solicited the samples from researchers studying several hundred disorders, all of which will be coordinated by the University of Washington. These centers also plan to join the International Rare Disease Research Consortium, which aims to develop diagnoses for most rare diseases and treatments for about 200 disorders by 2020.”We foresee genome sequencing becoming a routine part of medical care. We regularly hear anecdotal accounts of people who have made remarkable recoveries from illness by early applications of genomic medicine, especially for some types of cancer and acute diseases,” said Brad Ozenberger, NHGRI’s program director for Genomic Medicine, who is overseeing the new clinical sequencing initiative along with Jean McEwen, program director for the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Program. “These projects are exploring the best ways to widen the use of genomic medicine in a responsible, respectful way.”

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