Center for Common Disease Genomics

The McDonnell Genome Institute at Washington University has won a four year, $60 million grant to study the genomics of common disease

Center for Common Disease Genomics Details

Common diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes and mental illness, affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The causes of these diseases can be difficult to decipher because they result from a complex combination of genomic influences and environmental factors.

CCDG investigators will initially focus on cardiovascular/metabolic and neuropsychiatric diseases, and are considering exploring other disorders, including inflammatory/autoimmune and bone/skeletal diseases, and Alzheimer’s disease. While each common disease represents a serious health burden in this country, each is also different in many ways – from the age of onset to the underlying biological changes. For each disease, CCDG researchers will sequence tens of thousands of genomes from individuals with and without the disease. NHGRI will eventually select additional diseases that the centers will study.

“The center investigators plan to use genome sequencing to identify as many of the genes and genomic variants underlying common diseases as possible,” said Adam Felsenfeld, Ph.D., director of the NHGRI Genome Sequencing Program. “Building on existing research, they will continue to uncover new biological insights into the development of common disease. At the same time, these studies will reveal genomic variants that may increase the risk for – or in some cases, protect against – diseases, which eventually might be helpful for their clinical management.”

Pending available funds, NHGRI will provide roughly $240 million over four years to four centers. NHLBI will provide an additional $20 million.

In the first two years, MGI will sequence thousands of genomes – predominantly from African-Americans, but also from Europeans – to study early-onset coronary heart disease (CHD) and type 1 diabetes (T1D).