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NIH expands network focused on how genes affect drug responses

The National Institutes of Health plans to spend $161.3 million over the next five years to expand the Pharmacogenomics Research Network (PGRN), a nationwide collaborative of scientists focused on understanding how genes affect a person's response to medicines.

"Thanks to breakthroughs in genome sequencing technologies and our growing understanding of genetic variation among individuals, there has never been a better time to propel the field of pharmacogenomics,'' said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. "Through these studies, we are moving closer to the goal of using genetic information to help prescribe the safest, most effective medicine for each patient."

Spearheaded by the NIH's National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) and launched in 2000, the PGRN has already identified gene variants linked to responses to medicines for different cancers, heart disease, asthma, nicotine addiction and other conditions.

The expanded network will continue research in these areas and move into new ones, including rheumatoid arthritis and bipolar disorder. Network scientists will also develop novel research methods and study the use of pharmacogenetics in rural and underserved populations.

The new awards include 14 scientific research projects and seven network resources. The resources will benefit PGRN scientists by:

  • offering deep DNA sequencing capacity by partnering with experts in this field
  • providing statistical analysis expertise
  • developing standardized terminology for pharmacogenomics research
  • piloting ways to learn about pharmacogenomics from de-identified medical records in health care systems
  • continuing and expanding a 2-year-old international collaboration with the Center for Genomic Medicine at the RIKEN Institute in Yokohama, Japan.

Research Groups

The PGRN research group projects are listed below alphabetically by principal investigator. Also included are the anticipated five-year total costs for each grant.

    Kathleen M. Giacomini, University of California, San Francisco, $11.9 million, Pharmacogenomics of Membrane Transporters (the Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics resource listed below is also associated with this award)

    Julie A. Johnson, University of Florida, Gainesville, $9.8 million, Pharmacogenomic Evaluation of Antihypertensive Responses

    John R. Kelsoe, University of California, San Diego, $6.4 million, Pharmacogenomics of Mood Stabilizer Response in Bipolar Disorder

    Ronald M. Krauss, Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute (Calif.), $9.4 million, Pharmacogenomics and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease (the Human Exome Resequencing resource listed below is also associated with this award)

    Caryn Lerman, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and Rachel F. Tyndale, University of Toronto, $12 million, Pharmacogenetics of Nicotine Addiction Treatment

    Robert M. Plenge, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, $7.5 million, Genetic Predictors of Response to Anti-TNF Therapy in Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Mark J. Ratain, Nancy J. Cox and M. Eileen Dolan, University of Chicago, $10.3 million, PAAR--Pharmacogenomics of Anticancer Agents Research Group

    Mary V. Relling, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tenn., $8.6 million, PAAR4Kids--Pharmacogenomics of Anticancer Agents Research in Children

    Dan M. Roden, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tenn., $12.4 million, Pharmacogenomics of Arrhythmia Therapy (two resources listed belowPGRN Statistical Analysis Resource and Pharmacogenomic Discovery and Replication in Very Large Populationsare also associated with this award)

    Wolfgang Sadee, Ohio State University, Columbus, $9.1 million, Expression Genetics in Drug Therapy

    Alan R. Shuldiner, University of Maryland, Baltimore, $11.4 million, Pharmacogenomics of Anti-Platelet Intervention-2 (PAPI-2) Study

    Kenneth E. Thummel and Wylie G. Burke, University of Washington, Seattle, $10.2 million, Pharmacogenetics in Rural and Underserved Populations

    Richard M. Weinshilboum, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn., $11.2 million, Pharmacogenetics of Phase II Drug Metabolizing Enzymes (two resources listed belowNext Generation DNA Sequencing and Pharmacogenomic Ontology Network Resourceare also associated with this award)

    Scott T. Weiss and Kelan G. Tantisira, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, $9.8 million, Pharmacogenetics of Asthma Treatment

Network Resources

The PGRN resources are listed below along with their anticipated five-year grant total costs. The scientists leading each effort are listed alphabetically.

    Global Alliance for Pharmacogenomics, $3.2 million
    Kathleen M. Giacomini, University of California, San Francisco

    Next Generation DNA Sequencing, $2.3 million
    Richard Gibbs, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston

    Next Generation Sequencing, $3.0 million
    Elaine Mardis, Washington University, St. Louis

    Human Exome Resequencing, $3.9 million
    Deborah A. Nickerson, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle

    PGRN Statistical Analysis Resource, $2.4 million
    Marylyn Ritchie, Vanderbilt University, Nashville

    Pharmacogenomic Discovery and Replication in Very Large Populations, $3.4 million
    Dan M. Roden, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville

    Pharmacogenomic Ontology Network Resource, $3.1 million
    Christopher Chute, Mayo Clinic, Rochester


Contact: Alisa Zapp Machalek
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

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