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NIH Funding Research on Applying Genomic Medicine to Underserved Populations

August 10, 2017
by David Raths
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$18.9 million grant funds six clinical sites, coordinating center

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is awarding $18.9 million toward research that aims to accelerate the use of genome sequencing in clinical care.

NIH said the new awards would generate innovative approaches and best practices to ensure that the effectiveness of genomic medicine can be applied to all individuals and groups, including diverse and underserved populations, and in healthcare settings that extend beyond academic medical centers.

The research is being funded as part of the Clinical Sequencing Evidence-Generating Research (CSER2) Consortium. CSER2 builds upon the Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) Consortium, initiated in 2010 and funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), both part of NIH.

With this new round of funding, CSER2 investigators will continue the effort to generate evidence for the usefulness of genome sequencing in clinical care, but with a particular focus on diverse and underserved individuals. To that end, NHGRI and NCI have partnered with the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) to improve processes for recruiting and retaining patients to participate in research from diverse racial and ethnic groups, as well as from currently understudied clinical healthcare settings where genomic medicine could potentially be put into practice.

In fiscal year 2017, CSER2 is awarding grants to six clinical sites and one coordinating center, with the awards planned for a total of four years.

Gail Jarvik, M.D., Ph.D. of the University of Washington in Seattle will oversee the CSER2 Coordinating Center.

Recipients of the clinical site awards are:

  • Jonathan Berg, M.D., Ph.D., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • Gregory Cooper, Ph.D., HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, Huntsville, Alabama
  • Katrina Goddard, Ph.D., Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, Portland, Oregon
  • Eimear Kenny, Ph.D., Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York
  • Pui-Yan Kwok, M.D., Ph.D., University of California, San Francisco
  • Sharon Plon, M.D., Ph.D., Baylor College of Medicine, Houston

 “Engaging patient populations that are traditionally underrepresented in genomics research, coupled with the inclusion of broader types of healthcare settings, will enrich the data that result from CSER2,” said Regina Smith James, M.D., director of Clinical and Health Services Research at NIMHD, in a statement.

CSER2 will also continue to include collaborators such as those from the NHGRI Intramural ClinSeqÒ study. The clinical sites – all with a goal of recruiting at least 60 percent of participants from diverse or underserved settings – will include research that covers geographical areas from the racially diverse populations in Houston, to the underrepresented minority populations in Harlem and the Bronx in New York. Each project will address additional areas that will be common across CSER2 sites, such as the effectiveness of treatment decisions; patient and familial response to genomic testing; patient-provider-laboratory interactions that influence the use of genome sequencing; and integrating genomic, clinical and healthcare data to build a shared evidence base for clinical decision making.

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