The Microarray Consortium was initially funded in 2002 by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS; www.ninds.nih.gov) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH; www.nimh.nih.gov). The new award is supported by these two institutes as well as the thirteen other NIH Neuroscience Blueprint institutes. The consortium combines technology resources from TGen, Duke University in Durham, NC, and the University of California in Los Angeles. Because of the consortium's success and an expanding need for consortium services in neuroscience, a fourth research center, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, will be added to the program in June.
About 10,000 investigators from the 15 different NIH institutes that are part of the NIH Neuroscience Blueprint will have access to the technology and expertise within the consortium. These investigators will be able to further their research through the use of microarray technology used for scanning through the entire human genome (3 billion letters) and all of the genes for which it encodes (30,000-40,000 genes).
"The application of the newest and most sophisticated genome scanning technologies will allow us to unlock the mysteries of how the brain functions normally, as well as what causes common human disorders like Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and others," said Dr. Dietrich A. Stephan, Director of the Neurogenomics D ivision at the Translational Genomics Research Institute.
Genomic scanning technologies make use of the human genome sequence to visualize how gene flavors or aberrant amounts of genes can cause human disease. The consortium centers specialize in technologies which provide information about the genes turned on or off in the diseased tissues being studied. Scientists use these microarray technologies to compare genetic patterns between an individual with a disease and an unaffected person. Using this information, investigators can identify the root causes responsible for certain disorders so that diagnostics and treatments can be developed that have a direct impact on the disease mechanisms.
The Microarray Consortium initially received $9 million from the NIH from June 2002 to June 2005, and the new funding will be approximately $25 million over the next five years.
"It is exciting to have the microarray consortium expanded in capacity and expertise to serve the entire community of neuroscientists funded by NIH institutes. The application of genomic technologies in neuroscience is an important step in the development of future therapies for diseases and disorders of the nervous system," said Dr. Thomas Miller, Program Director of Extramural Research Programs at the NINDS.
The consortium worked with 5 AM solutions, a software development company in Phoenix, to create a central database for data generated by the consortium. These data are freely available so the entire scientific community can benefit from this publicly funded endeavor.
The Neuroscience Blueprint institutes are components of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and are the nation's primary supporters of basic and applied biomedical research on the brain and nervous system. Additional information about the NIH Neuroscience Microarray Consortium can be accessed at http://arrayconsortium.tgen.org.