The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has announced its plans to provide approximately $185m USD to fund research intended to advance understanding of the human genome. The newly launched Impact of Genomic Variation on Function (IGVF) consortium will include 30 sites in the US.
The consortium was initiated and will be funded by the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). According to the institute, it will fund 25 awards across the research sites. IGVF investigators plan to work to better understand how genomic variation can impact human genome function, as well as how such impacts can influence health and disease.
Researchers have identified millions of human genomic variants that differ across the world, including variants associated with a number of diseases. Consortium researchers reportedly will work to pinpoint which variants in the genome are particularly relevant for health and disease; that information likely will be of great interest and importance to researchers and drug developers.
Carolyn Hutter, director of the NHGRI Division of Genome Sciences, said scientists have made notable progress to date in understanding the human genome.
“Biomedical researchers have recently made remarkable advances in the experimental and computational methods available for elucidating genome function,” Hutter said. “The IGVF consortium will include world leaders in these areas, and together they will leverage these advances to tackle an incredibly challenging and important series of questions related to how genomic variation influences biological function.”
The consortium plans to develop a catalog of results and approaches used in their studies; resulting information generated by the consortium will be made openly available to the global research community through a web portal. Additionally, because it is not feasible to manipulate each possible variant individually in each setting, researchers also plan to work on computational modeling approaches, in order to predict the impact of variants on genome function.
According to consortium leader, it includes five components:
- Functional characterization centers
- Regulatory network projects
- Mapping centers
- Data and administrative coordinating center
- Predictive modeling projects.
NHGRI is one of the NIH’s 27 institutes and centers. The NHGRI Extramural Research Program supports grants for research, training, and career development at sites nationwide.