The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) is planning to establish a new precision health research program within its Division of Intramural Research.
The goal of the program is to develop and evaluate next-generation healthcare that uses cutting-edge genomic and informatics tools to improve the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease.
Leading the new program will be Leslie Biesecker, M.D., chief of the NHGRI Medical Genomics and Metabolic Genetics Branch, who has extensive experience in genomic medicine research. Also joining the program will be Josh Denny, M.D., an expert in clinical informatics and precision medicine whose research group will reside within the NHGRI Intramural Research Program.
A professor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Denny recently arrived at NIH as the new CEO of the All of Us Research Program. The addition of the Denny research group to NHGRI provides an opportunity to expand the Institute’s intramural research efforts in a rapidly growing area at the interface between genomics and clinical informatics.
The growing availability of electronic health records for use in research has enabled unprecedented abilities to identify subtle but important factors related to human disease that would be otherwise difficult to discern. The new precision health research program will leverage all these available tools in an NIH setting.
“This effort is about establishing a highly interactive group of researchers who will focus on using genomics and informatics to improve healthcare outcomes,” said Biesecker, the new program’s director, in a statement. “There is no limit to what you can do when you have a critical mass of talented and motivated people empowered by cutting-edge genomics and informatics tools.”
The establishment of the NHGRI precision health research program within the broader NIH Intramural Research Program will create opportunities to study individuals identified through the new informatics approaches, which in turn will help to test new diagnostic and treatment approaches. This multi-faceted, interdisciplinary program will include both major research projects as well as core facilities that will facilitate the work of other NHGRI intramural researchers.
One core will provide access to the large datasets emanating from various cohort studies worldwide, such as the UK Biobank, BioVU, ClinSeq, All of Us, and others. Another core will support the study of selected cohort participants in the NIH Clinical Center in efforts focused on evaluating the predictive power of genomic medicine.