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New NIH grants to investigate disease-related variations in genetic makeup
Date:9/6/2013

Five research teams have received new four-year awards to study the genomics of disease susceptibility in ethnically diverse populations. The projects aim to unravel the subtle variations in genetic makeup among groups including African-Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanics and more that may account for differences in risks for conditions such as high blood pressure and high blood lipids, in addition to common diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

These research teams are receiving support more than $3.8 million in fiscal year 2013, and nearly $14 million over four years, based on the availability of funds through the Population Architecture Using Genomics and Epidemiology (PAGE) program of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of NIH. The current grantees are the second group of researchers to be funded through the PAGE program.

"The goal of the PAGE program is to investigate ancestrally diverse populations to gain a better understanding of how genetic factors influence susceptibility to disease," said epidemiologist Lucia Hindorff, Ph.D., PAGE program director at NHGRI.

Such factors include variations called single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. These are tiny spelling changes in the DNA code that can affect a person's risk of developing a disease or alter a response to medications. Over the years, a research approach called a genome-wide association study (GWAS) has led to the discovery of hundreds of gene variants associated with common diseases. This next phase of the PAGE program will focus on expanding the number of genetic variants analyzed to include those that are more rare and likely to be functional. Scientists hope that these common and rare genetic variants will allow them to piece together the complex biological picture of many diseases and lead to more personalized prevention, diagnoses and treatment.

To date, much of this research including the initial round of PAGE grants has focused on whites
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Contact: Steven Benowitz
steven.benowitz@nih.gov
301-451-8325
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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