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Genes, Environment and Health Initiative invests in genetic studies, environmental monitoring
Date:9/4/2007

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has selected the first projects to be funded as part of the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative (GEI), a unique collaboration between geneticists and environmental scientists.

"This is ground-breaking research in understanding the complex factors that contribute to health and disease," said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. "Researchers have long known that our genes, our environmental exposures and our own behavioral choices all have an influence on our health. This new initiative will use innovative genomic tools as well as new instruments for measuring environmental factors from diet and physical activity to stress and substance addiction in order to begin sorting out how these different factors affect a persons risk for a number of health conditions."

Secretary Leavitt first launched the GEI initiative in February 2006 as a proposal in the President's budget for fiscal year 2007. The funding announced today is for the first research grants under the new initiative. They are part of a broader effort across HHS agencies to build on recent advances in genomic science and medicine, including the Secretary's Initiative on Personalized Health Care. NIH received $40 million in new funding as part of its fiscal year (FY) 2007 budget to support GEI. NIH institutes already planned to spend some $28 million in FY 2007 on the kinds of studies GEI will conduct. And finally, two institutes chose to add a total of $9 million in additional funding for targeted studies under the Genes, Environment and Health Initiative.

To identify the genetic risks, researchers will use the rapidly evolving technologies used in genome-wide association studies to focus on common conditions, such as tooth decay, heart disease, cancer and diabetes. This genetic component of GEI uses a strategy which relies on the newfound ability to swiftly identify genetic differences throughout the
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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