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GEN News Highlights : Sep 6, 2013
NIH Funds Minority Disease Susceptibility Studies
Five research teams have received four-year awards through the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) program of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) to study the genomics of disease susceptibility in ethnically diverse populations. The teams got more than $3.8 million in fiscal year 2013 and will receive nearly $14 million over four years in support, based on fund availability.
The projects aim to unravel the subtle variations in genetic makeup among groups—including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, and others—that may account for differences in risks for conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood lipids, in addition to common diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Epidemiologist Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., PAGE program director at NHGRI (part of the NIH), said in a statement that the PAGE program aims to investigate ancestrally diverse populations to gain a better understanding of how genetic factors such as SNPs influence susceptibility to disease.
The current grantees are the second group of researchers to be funded through the PAGE program; the first group of four teams received funding back in July of 2008. This next phase of the PAGE program will reportedly focus on expanding the number of genetic variants analyzed to include those that are more rare and likely to be functional.
Much of this research to date including the initial round of PAGE grants has focused on whites. The new round of grants supports studies on groups of more diversified heritages.
"We wanted the second group of grants to focus on nonwhites because many tend to have a greater incidence of disease," Dr. Hindorff said. "There are often population-related biological pathways that contribute to disease, so looking at many traits and diseases together gives a more complete picture of the role of genetic variation."
The five groups being awarded grants (pending available funds) are:
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