The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced the release of the first version of a free online toolkit aimed at standardizing measurements of research subjects' physical characteristics and environmental exposures. The tools will give researchers more power to compare data from multiple studies, accelerating efforts to understand the complex genetic and environmental factors that cause cancer, heart disease, depression and other common diseases.
The toolkit, which is available at https://www.phenxtoolkit.org/, is the first product of the Consensus Measures for Phenotypes and eXposures (PhenX) initiative. Supported by a $6.8 million cooperative agreement from NHGRI and conducted by RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., PhenX is a three-year project to develop a set of standard measures across 20 research categories related to health and common diseases.
"The PhenX toolkit will allow researchers to more easily combine and compare results across a wide range of studies, strengthening our efforts to untangle the complex genetic and environmental roots of common diseases," said Alan E. Guttmacher, M.D., acting director of NHGRI.
Cross-study comparisons can help researchers to refine estimates of disease risk, as well as to extend the findings of one study to other population groups.Theoretically, by comparing studies that utilize the standard measures in the PhenX toolkit, researchers could more easily combine the results for each measurement from an obesity study with the results from a diabetes study to examine the overlap of genetic factors in the two health conditions.
"We encourage researchers to begin including the measures from the PhenX toolkit in new and existing studies now, so that they are familiar with the process and can add additional measures seamlessly to their research in the future,"
|Contact: Geoff Spencer|
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute