NIH'S Genes Environment and Health Initiative Adds Six Studies
News Sep 25, 2008
The Genes, Environment and Health Initiative (GEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded grants estimated to be up to $5.5 million over two years for six studies aimed at finding genetic factors that influence the risks for stroke, glaucoma, high blood pressure, prostate cancer and other common disorders.
The grantees will use a genome-wide association study to scan markers across the complete sets of DNA, or genomes, of large groups of people to find genetic variants associated with a particular disease, condition or trait.
"Genome-wide association studies are helping us take major strides towards identifying the genetic variants associated with common diseases," said National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) Acting Director Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., who is co-chair of the GEI coordinating committee.
"This initiative will yield valuable information about the biological pathways that lead to health and disease and about how genetic variants, environmental factors and behavioral choices interact to influence disease risk. Such information is vital to our efforts to develop more personalized approaches to health care."
GEI is collaboration between genetic researchers and environmental scientists. Six GEI-supported genome-wide association studies, overseen by NHGRI, are already under way. Two additional GEI studies, supported and managed by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, have also begun.
In addition, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences is overseeing GEI-supported research that seeks to develop wearable sensors and other technologies to accurately measure personal exposures to environmental agents.
Funding for the latest round of studies was contributed by all of NIH's 27 institutes and centers. The principal investigators, their approximate funding for fiscal years 2008 and 2009, and their research projects are:
• KATHLEEN BARNES, PH.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore; $1.2 million. Genome-Wide Associations: Environmental Interactions in the Lung Health Study.
• MYRIAM FORNAGE, PH.D., University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston; $1.1 million. Genome-Wide Association Study of Longitudinal Blood Pressure Profiles from Young Adulthood to Middle-Age.
• CHRISTOPHER HAIMAN, SC.D., University of Southern California, Los Angeles; $210,000. A Multiethnic Genome-Wide Scan of Prostate Cancer.
• JOHN HEIT, M.D., Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.; $1.1 million. Genome-Wide Association of Venous Thrombosis (Blood Clots in Veins).
• BRAXTON MITCHELL, PH.D., University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore; $1.1 million. Genetic Risk to Stroke in Smokers and Nonsmokers in Two Ethnic Groups.
• LOUIS PASQUALE, M.D., Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Harvard Medical School, Boston, $850,000. Genes and Environment Initiative in Glaucoma.
Data from the genome-wide association studies will be deposited in the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP), at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a part of the National Library of Medicine at NIH, which will manage the vast amount of genetic, medical and environmental information that emerges from GEI.
To encourage rapid research advances, and in keeping with the principles pioneered by the Human Genome Project, all data generated through these initiatives will be made available to researchers, consistent with NIH's data-sharing policy for NIH-supported, genome-wide association studies, which is available on NIH's Office of Extramural Research Genome-Wide Association Studies.