Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help lead national efforts to investigate how variations in the human genome sequence affect how the genome functions. Such information is critical for understanding human health and seeking new ways to treat diseases.
The university will serve as the data and administrative coordinating center for the multicenter project referred to as the Impact of Genomic Variation on Function (IGVF) Consortium.
Nationwide, the NIH is providing about $185 million over five years to the consortium, initiated and funded by the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). NHGRI will fund 25 awards across 30 U.S. research sites.
The Washington University data and administrative center will be led by Ting Wang, PhD, the Sanford C. and Karen P. Loewentheil Distinguished Professor of Medicine.
“We’re very good at measuring genomic variation, and Washington University and our McDonnell Genome Institute have been leading that work nationally for decades,” Wang said. “But we still have very little understanding of the functional impact of that genetic variation. One DNA variant or a combination of variants could raise a person’s risk of developing heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease or cancer, for example. This project is a continuation of our long-running genomic research, but now we’re trying to determine how variations in the genome are actually affecting the body.”