NIH, Hopkins Establish New Center
Several components of NIH, in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, have established a new research center to analyze common disorders caused by the actions of multiple genes and interactions with the environment. The new Center for Inherited Disease Research (CIDR) will give scientists a powerful new approach to understanding common but poorly understood disorders such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and neurologic and psychiatric disorders.
Operating under a $21.8 million contract over the next 5 years, CIDR is housed in a 14,000-square-foot facility at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore. Expected to be fully operational this spring, the center will employ a staff of about 25.
The eight NIH participants are: National Human Genome Research Institute (formerly NCHGR, which attained institute status Jan. 14), which serves as the lead component, NCI, NICHD, NIDCD, NIDA, NIEHS, NIMH, and NINDS.
Most diseases of modern life -- cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and a host of neuropsychiatric disorders -- seem to result from the activities of several genes and the interplay between a human body and its environment. The effect of each gene, however, is rather weak, making it difficult to understand why some members of a family develop chronic disorders while others do not.
New technologies enable scientists to go after the genetic origins of ordinary diseases that are caused by multiple genes, said Dr. Robert Nussbaum, who came to NHGRI 3 years ago with the aim of developing a center for studying the genetics of complex disorders. As CIDR mastermind, he will oversee the contract from the NIH side.
CIDR will specialize in a technique known as genotyping -- sorting through the entire genetic complement, or genome, of disease-prone family members to search for not one, but many gene regions associated with that disease. CIDR researchers expect to analyze the genetics of six to nine complex disorders per year.
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