International Common Disease Alliance aims to accelerate our understanding of common diseases
To productively use a long, blank (and boring) hallway near my office in Building 31 on the NIH campus, NHGRI staff members recently teamed up with colleagues at the National Center for Biotechnology Information to develop a graphical display illustrating the scale of human genome sequence. The wall is now enhanced with a representation of ~1/1000th of the human genome sequence – specifically, about 3 million G’s, A’s, T’s, and C’s stretching nearly 100 linear feet. As mentioned in a recent article in the NIH Record, representing “the complete human genome sequence would [have required] about 15 miles of hallway.” Check out a video tour of this new exhibit.
All the best,
In This Issue
- International Common Disease Alliance aims to accelerate our understanding of common diseases
- Interviews with key figures in genomics showcase rich history
- New lesson plans featuring Henrietta Lacks explore the legacy of her immortal cells
- Julie Segre elected to National Academy of Medicine
- Charles Rotimi and Sarah Tishkoff receive prestigious ASHG 2019 Curt Stern Award
International Common Disease Alliance aims to accelerate our understanding of common diseases
The International Common Disease Alliance (ICDA) was recently established as a forum for international stakeholders across academia, medicine, biopharma, tech companies, and funders to accelerate discovery and translation for the next phase of human genetics and genomics research. The ICDA tagline “Maps to Mechanisms to Medicine” highlights the alliance’s focus on enabling research and activities to move from disease-associated loci, to disease biology, and then to disease treatment. In September, the ICDA held its scientific plenary and launch meeting in the Washington, DC area. The agenda and video from the ICDA’s scientific plenary and launch meeting are now available online.
NHGRI shares many goals with the ICDA. Accelerating progress in common disease genetics discovery and translation is important for several NHGRI-funded programs, most prominently the Centers for Common Disease Genomics. NHGRI strongly agrees with ICDA’s emphasis on achieving greater diversity in genomics research, a theme that has emerged repeatedly during the Institute’s ‘Genomics 2020’ strategic planning process. NHGRI staff members have been involved in early ICDA planning activities, and Dr. Carolyn Hutter, Director of NHGRI’s Division of Genome Sciences, serves on the ICDA organizing committee.
Common disease genomics is also a topic of great interest to other NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs), and the close physical proximity of the September meeting to the NIH campus allowed many IC representatives to participate in the meeting. NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins delivered a featured presentation at the meeting, which was followed by a discussion involving a panel of IC Directors that focused on the NIH vision of common disease research.
With the official launch of the ICDA complete, work now begins in earnest to identify key projects, platforms, and resources needed to accelerate progress in common disease research. An ICDA white paper will be released in 2020 detailing the proposed path forward, and a draft is already available online.
NHGRI will continue to interface with the ICDA and its membership to advance our common goals of understanding and treating common diseases.
Interviews with key figures in genomics showcase rich genomics history
Launched in 2012, the NHGRI History of Genomics Program collects and organizes historic materials related to the field of genomics and NHGRI as an organization. As a significant goal, the program conducts and shares oral history interviews that capture the perspectives and experiences of people involved in major genomics programs and other NHGRI endeavors. This oral history collection includes interviews with both NHGRI staff and leaders from the genomics research community. To date, nearly 60 interviews have been conducted, with 24 of those posted on the NHGRI YouTube channel, Genome TV. NHGRI developed a new promotional reel featuring highlights from the interviews.
New lesson plans featuring Henrietta Lacks explore the legacy of her immortal cells
The NHGRI Education and Community Involvement Branch worked with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and educators from Washington, Maryland, and Virginia to develop a series of high school lesson plans based on the life of Henrietta Lacks. Lacks' life and her cells created legacies that still touch lives today. Topics in the lesson plans include racism in medicine, cervical cancer, and cancer treatments. Each lesson plan features a foreword by Jeri Lacks-Whye, Lacks’ granddaughter. Released earlier this month, the lesson plans are available on a new webpage dedicated to the life of Lacks and the contributions of HeLa cells to biomedical research that can be found on the Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code website.
Julie Segre elected to National Academy of Medicine
Dr. Julie Segre, chief and senior investigator of NHGRI’s Translational and Functional Genomics Branch and head of the Microbial Genetics Section, was recently elected into the National Academy of Medicine. Julie has been an investigator in NHGRI’s Intramural Research Program since 2000. She earned this honor through her groundbreaking work on the human skin microbiome and the use of genomic tools to advance the tracking and control of antibiotic-resistant microorganisms in the hospital setting.
Charles Rotimi and Sarah Tishkoff receive prestigious ASHG 2019 Curt Stern Award
NHGRI extends its congratulations to Drs. Charles Rotimi and Sarah Tishkoff, who were recently awarded the 2019 Curt Stern Award by the American Society of Human Genetics at their annual meeting in Houston. Charles is an NIH Distinguished Investigator and has served as the Director of the NIH Center for Research on Genomics and Global Health since 2008, which is housed at NHGRI. His outstanding work in the field of population genomics spearheaded the community’s efforts to globalize genomics. Both as an advocate and a participating scientist, he has been a driving force behind Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) Initiative, which has advanced genomics research across the African continent. Sarah is the David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in Genetics and Biology at the University of Pennsylvania and an NHGRI grantee. Her work focuses on reconstructing the history and genomic evolution of African populations. Through this work, her team continues to illustrate how Africa is key for understanding the genomic, social, and cultural determinants of many human diseases.
2020 Vision for Genomics
- Recent NHGRI ‘Genomics2020’ Strategic Planning events include: one of two data science web-based workshops held on Oct. 31, 2019; a poster session at the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) Annual Meeting held Oct. 15-19, 2019; a workshop on “Integrating the Past and Future of ELSI Research” at the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities Annual Meeting on Oct. 25, 2019; and a session at the World Congress of Psychiatric Genetics on Oct. 26, 2019.
- Upcoming NHGRI ‘Genomics2020’ Strategic Planning events include: the second of two data science, web-based workshops to be held on Nov. 19, 2019 at 12 p.m. ET.
- To stay informed about the various strategic planning events, please sign up for email updates and monitor the ‘Genomics2020’ calendar.
Prolonged antibiotic treatment may alter preterm infants’ microbiome
NIH researchers create new viral vector for improved gene therapy in sickle cell disease
Finding new genetic mutations amid healthy cells
‘Sticky’ gene may help Valium calm nerves
Nicotine addiction linked to diabetes through a DNA-regulating gene in animal models
One little girl’s story highlights the promise of precision medicine
Researchers identify genetic variations linked to oxygen drops during sleep
Schizophrenia risk gene linked to cognitive deficits in mice
Scientists unveil search-and-replace genome editing
Unique case of disease resistance reveals possible Alzheimer’s treatment
Notable accomplishments in genomic medicine
A multi-omic view of exercise response – Molly Bray
NLM special lecture: gender, race and power in science – Angela Saini
Promo: NHGRI Oral History Collection
Initiative to maximize research education in genomics: Diversity Action Plan
Research supplements to promote diversity in health-related research
Administrative supplements for short-term research career enhancement in genomics for experienced investigators
The intersection of sex and gender influences on health and disease
Social epigenomics research focused on minority health and health disparities
Discovery of the genetic basis of childhood cancers and of structural birth defects: Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program
Small research grants for analyses of Gabriella Miller Kids First Pediatric Research Program data
Administrative supplements to NIH-funded T32 and TL1 training grants to better integrate behavioral and social sciences (BSS) with other health-related sciences
NIH operates under a continuing resolution
NIH extension policy for eligibility window for Pathway to Independence Awards
NHGRI participation in PAR-19-343 "Maximizing opportunities for scientific and academic independent careers (MOSAIC) postdoctoral career transition award to promote diversity"
Expansion of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) NHGRI T32 training program in genomic medicine to include pre-doctoral trainees
Intent to publish a funding opportunity snnouncement for centers for polygenic risk score (PRS) methods and analysis for populations of diverse ancestry
Encourage eligible NHGRI awardees to apply for PA-18-906 “Research supplements to promote diversity in health-related research”
NIH & NHGRI News
FDA approves new breakthrough therapy for cystic fibrosis
Dare to dream: the long road to targeted therapies for cystic fibrosis
Dr. Julie Segre elected to the National Academy of Medicine
Dr. Ken Wiley receives the Harold D. West, Ph.D. Distinguished Biomedical Science Award
NIH to fund hubs to accelerate development of biomedical health technologies
2019 NIH Director’s awards for High-Risk, High-Reward Research Program announced
NIH funding bolsters rare diseases research collaborations
NIH funds new All of Us Research Program genome center to test advanced sequencing tools
NIH launches new collaboration to develop gene-based cures for sickle cell disease and HIV on global scale
Joined by colleagues, Dr. Collins outlines new collaboration with Gates Foundation
Dr. Collins pens a Time commentary on how science is advancing health
Statement on the return of Dr. Ned Sharpless as NCI Director
Genome: Unlocking Life's Code October 2019 newsletter
Genome: Unlocking Life's Code
Current: Sept. 12, 2019 – Jan. 2, 2020
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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.
Last updated: November 7, 2019