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Two NIH initiatives launch intensive efforts to find roots of common diseases

Map Project, to speed up the discovery of the genetic causes of common diseases like diabetes and hypertension. At the same time, it's critical that we also understand the environmental contributors to sickness, and the interplay among genes and environment. There is not a moment to be lost."

GEI will have two main components: a laboratory procedure for efficiently analyzing genetic variation in groups of patients with specific illnesses and a technology development program to devise new ways of monitoring personal environmental exposures that interact with genetic variations and result in human diseases.

The proposed federal funding level will enable GEI to perform genetic analysis ?or genotyping - studies for several dozen common diseases. The exact diseases to be studied will be determined by peer review. An initial survey of existing NIH-supported clinical studies identified more than 100 with sufficient numbers of already characterized patients to get this effort started. In addition, NIH expects to develop four new environmental monitoring devices a year.

"This initiative would not have been possible a year or two ago," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., Director of the National Institutes of Health, an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. "This is a tangible result of the nation's increased investment in medical research over the past 10 years. We are now poised to combine what we have learned from years of population studies, with newly available technologies, developed with NIH support. These technologies reduced the cost of genotyping by more than 100-fold, making such a comprehensive effort affordable. Equally important, this effort will dramatically increase our understanding of the environmental factors of health and disease, and help us develop novel measures of gene-environment interactions. We stand on the threshold of creating a future that will revolutionize the practice of medicine by allowing us to pred
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Source:NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute


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