Funding boost for Exome and Cancer Genome Atlas projects

6 October 2009

The US National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) has announced $64 million funding for a large-scale DNA sequencing and molecular profiling project that will use samples from several major population studies for research into the basis of heart, lung, and blood diseases (see GenomeWeb news article).

The project, which will run for two years, will analyse genomic data from existing cohorts with well-documented phenotypic and clinical data, in the search for genetic factors that contribute to disease, including gene-environment interactions. The conditions that will be investigated include heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, asthma, chronic pulmonary disease, hypertension, and pre-cancerous blood disorders.

The funding includes $25 million each to two genome sequencing centres at the University of Washington and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, which have developed their own methods of exome sequencing, as part of the Exome Project – an initiative to develop cost-effective, high-throughput sequencing for all of the protein coding regions (exons) in the human genome, funded and run jointly by the NHLBI and the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) 

This news follows the recent allocation of more than $1 billion for applied genomics research by the US Government (see press release), including $175 million for The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project, which seeks to map and understand the genetic basis of cancer (see previous news). This sum will be boosted by an additional $100 million from the NHGRI and National Cancer Institute (NCI), and will be used over two years for the collection and analysis of in excess of 20,000 tissue samples from more than 20 cancers. The project aims to produce comprehensive maps of the genomic changes in ten of these cancers, with sequencing and characterisation of at least 100 tumours of up to fifteen additional cancer types.

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