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Two NIH initiatives launch intensive efforts to find roots of common diseases

WASHINGTON Wed. Feb. 8, 2006 The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today announced the creation of two new, closely related initiatives to speed up research on the causes of common diseases such as asthma, arthritis and Alzheimer's disease.

One initiative boosts funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a multi-institute effort to identify the genetic and environmental underpinnings of common illnesses. The other initiative launches a public-private partnership between NIH, the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) and major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, especially Pfizer Global Research & Development of New London, Conn.; and Affymetrix Inc. of Santa Clara, Calif., to accelerate genome association studies to find the genetic roots of widespread sicknesses. The genetic analysis component of the two initiatives is highly complementary. Genes and Environment Initiative

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt announced on Monday that the President's budget proposal for fiscal year (FY) 2007 includes $68 million for the Genes and Environment Initiative (GEI), a research effort at NIH to combine a type of genetic analysis and environmental technology development to understand the causes of common diseases. The FY 2007 budget represents a $40 million increase above the $28 million already planned for these efforts in the NIH budget.

If approved by Congress, this additional federal funding will begin in FY 2007 and continue for multiple years. Of the first year's funding, $26 million will go to genetic analysis and $14 million for the development of new tools to measure environmental exposures that affect health.

"The discoveries made through these efforts will ultimately lead to profound advances in disease prevention and treatment," Secretary Leavitt said. "These are the kinds of innovative efforts that we should support. We must seize the historic opportunity provided by
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Contact: Geoff Spencer
spencerg@mail.nih.gov
301-402-0911
NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
8-Feb-2006


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