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NHGRI’s Intramural Research Program enters new phase

Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D. July 06, 2023

Last month’s social media campaign, Healthcare Professionals’ Genomics Education Week, was a huge success. Dozens of healthcare professionals and over 700 other participants convened virtually to discuss the role of genomics in patient care, covering topics such as rare diseases and direct-to-consumer genetic testing. If you missed it, recorded videos of the webinars and panels are available to watch on GenomeTV.

NHGRI is also excited to have recently awarded the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) over $7 million to support the new Genomics and Public Service Fellowship Program. The program will expand on the existing joint fellowships between the two organizations and will help early-stage professionals interested in policy, communications, education, and program management gain hands-on skills and experience in genomics. NHGRI and ASHG will be providing additional details about the four components of this newly configured program in the coming weeks and months.


All the best,



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NHGRI’s Intramural Research Program enters next phase



Since its launch in 1993, NHGRI’s Intramural Research Program (IRP) has grown and evolved with the changing landscape of genomics research. For the past three decades, the institute’s IRP has been a leader in genomics and its application to human health. Following a period of growth and restructuring, which coincides with the completion of  Charles Rotimi’s second year as the IRP’s scientific director, the IRP enters a new phase in growth with a continued promise of conducting truly exceptional basic, translational, and clinical genomics research.

The IRP houses over 60 investigators and over 500 total staff, together applying their diverse scientific expertise to answer questions at the forefront of genomics. Additionally, among the investigators are the directors of several other NIH institutes and programs, whose research groups are hosted within NHGRI’s IRP. These intramural investigators are distributed across seven branches/centers, which reflects a recent restructuring that includes the addition of a new Metabolic Medicine Branch.

During 2022 and 2023, the IRP was reviewed by a Blue Ribbon Panel, a group of external genomics experts convened to provide NHGRI and NIH leadership with a review of the program’s strengths, weaknesses, and areas of potential growth. The panel issued a report summarizing its recommendations, noting how the IRP’s new phase reflects a successful ramp up over the past 30 years.

The panel’s report also outlines the outstanding scientific productivity of the IRP, including 1,260 papers published by intramural investigators between 2018 and 2023. These publications demonstrate the highly collaborative nature of the IRP, which includes collaborations within NHGRI, across NIH, with institutions in all 50 states and Puerto Rico, and with international partners from over 100 countries. The significance of some of these publications is demonstrated by their reach beyond the genomics community, generating substantial media coverage.

The IRP’s scientific success is in part due to an institutional commitment to supporting the work of individual researchers as opposed to specific research projects. This approach makes the IRP well-positioned to sustain long-term studies and support high-risk, high-reward projects, both of which can be challenging to fund using many other funding mechanisms.

Additionally, NHGRI has one of the most impressive sets of genomics training opportunities in the world, supporting the career development of trainees across the full spectrum of research and clinical domains. The training opportunities within the IRP continue to grow, as evidenced by the recent addition of the Future Leaders Advancing Genomic Sciences and Health Innovation (FLAGSHIP) postdoctoral research program, which was created to provide meaningful training and mentorship opportunities to intramural postdoctoral researchers with an emphasis on enhancing diversity of the genomics workforce.

Meanwhile, the IRP has much to look forward to in its next phase. There are early plans to launch searches to recruit investigators who will invigorate the IRP with new scientific ideas, and the IRP is currently recruiting a director for the new Center for Genomics and Data Science Research. With this center’s focus on developing and applying cutting-edge computational approaches to analyze large-scale genomics data, the center director will be positioned to enhance a critically important area of genomics research within the IRP.

Dr. Rotimi summarized the current state of the NHGRI IRP at the 99th meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, as did the co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Panel. These recordings can be found on NHGRI’s YouTube channel GenomeTV.

Beth Tuck appointed director of NHGRI’s Education and Community Involvement Branch


Beth Tuck


Beth Tuck, M.A., has been appointed the director of NHGRI’s Education and Community Involvement Branch (ECIB). This branch develops programs aimed at strengthening public understanding of genomics and related areas, such as the ethical, legal and social implications of genomics research. Beth’s appointment as ECIB director is linked to her return to NHGRI, where she previously worked as a genomics education and outreach specialist and as a former NHGRI-ASHG Genetics Education & Engagement fellow. Most recently, she served as executive director and director of science education at Genspace, the world’s first community biology laboratory. Beth’s extensive experience in genomics education will complement the diverse activities of ECIB.

NHGRI announces new program for investigator-initiated research in genomics and health equity



NHGRI, in collaboration with other participating NIH institutes, centers, and offices, recently announced two Notices of Funding Opportunity, one for R01 grants and one for R21 grants, related to investigator-initiated research in genomics and health equity. The purpose of this effort is to support investigator-initiated research that develops approaches, generates data, and implements interventions to advance the equitable use of genomics, thereby improving health in all U.S. populations. Awardees will conduct innovative and generalizable research in genomics and health equity, spanning multiple genomics research areas, and will incorporate plans for enhancing diverse perspectives. Applications supporting new or early-stage investigators from diverse backgrounds, including those from groups traditionally underrepresented in the biomedical, behavioral, and clinical research workforce, are encouraged to apply. Applications are due on November 8, 2023.

ELSI Congress publishes special issue focused on equity and inclusion

ELSI Congress


The Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications (ELSI) Congress, a biennial conference supported by NHGRI, recently announced the publication of a special issue in the American Journal of Bioethics. The special issue includes five target articles, 31 open peer commentaries, and two guest editorials focused on equity and inclusion of diverse communities in genomics and precision medicine research. The target articles represent work presented at the 5th ELSI Congress: Innovating for a Just and Equitable Future, held in 2022. Authors in the issue reflect multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional collaborations, both inside and outside of the U.S. A subsequent call for papers was issued, and the papers represent a range of ELSI research topics that address critical questions about equity and the future of genomics and precision medicine.

GA4GH revises strategic plan to emphasize interoperability of genomic and clinical data



The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) recently released an updated version of its strategic plan, which outlines concrete actions designed to help GA4GH become a more influential standards body working toward unlocking the power of genomic data to benefit human health. The plan supports the community’s three key priorities: to improve interoperability and alignment with external standards and between GA4GH products; to improve implementation support for technical standards; and to align more closely with healthcare and clinical standards. Through a written survey and a series of brainstorming sessions held in 2022, GA4GH received over 300 pieces of feedback from more than 120 community members. To address the feedback, GA4GH has reintroduced its National Initiatives Forum (NIF), which aims to bring together large-scale, government-funded strategic initiatives in genomic data, often focused on translating research into a national clinical care setting. The GA4GH Implementation Forum (GIF) was also introduced as a mechanism to optimize technical standards development through real-world use The refreshed strategic plan provides more information around the roles and responsibilities of different members of the GA4GH community. By broadening their engagement within the international genomics and health community, GA4GH aims to better understand and serve the needs of global communities.

NIH launches virtual tour of campus

Aerial view of NIH Main Campus


NIH has launched an interactive website for virtually viewing its main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. Multiple tour options are available, providing an overview of NIH’s research and clinical facilities. The video tours are accompanied by interviews with senior NIH leaders, administrators, scientists, and patients, who provide additional context to the tours. The interactive campus map also displays the location of key amenities, such as parking, transportation, dining, and restrooms. The website includes links for additional information about open positions at NIH and clinical trials.

Genomic Research Spotlight

Multifactorial profiling of epigenetic landscapes at single-cell resolution using MulTI-Tag
Meers et al.
Nat Biotechnol. 2023 May;41(5):708-716. PMC10188359


NHGRI-funded researchers developed a new tool to help scientists study how a single genome creates all the distinct cells of the human body. The human body contains over 200 different cell types, such as neurons or muscle cells, each with its own unique set of functions. Nearly all cells in a human body contain the same exact DNA, which provides the genetic instructions for producing the proteins essential for living. However, each different cell type needs a different set of proteins. To produce each unique set of proteins, cells must regulate which genes are "turned on” in each cell. This is known as gene regulation, which takes many forms. One common form of gene regulation involves chemical changes to the complex package of DNA and proteins, known as chromatin. There are many different chemical modifications to chromatin, but previous methods could only look at one type of chemical modification per sample. This new tool, called MulTI-Tag, characterizes multiple chromatin features in one sample, which can more precisely elucidate cell types and predict how cells may change in development. Such a method will be valuable for studies aiming to understand traits informed by many genetic factors and disease development.


This research was funded by NIH with a grant to Steven Henikoff, Ph.D., who is a faculty member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center; that grant is part of the NIH Research Project Grant Program (PA-18-484).

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About The Genomics Landscape

A monthly update from the NHGRI Director on activities and accomplishments from the institute and the field of genomics.

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Last updated: July 6, 2023