Genetic Data Collection for Rare Diseases Gets Multi-Million Dollar Grant

The NIH has awarded Geisinger Health System, along with the University of Washington in Seattle and Washington University in St. Louis, a $5.8 million, five-year grant to study the role of genetics in neuropsychiatric disorders.

This project is one of 500 from the National Institute of Mental Health’s newly launched Mental Health Rare Genetic Disease Network (MHRGDN), and is part of the NIH’s efforts to improve the healthcare industry’s understanding of how genetics contribute to disease and wellness.

“Our understanding of the genetic causes of neuropsychiatric disorders is growing every day, but we still have a lot to learn,” said Christa L. Martin, director of Geisinger’s Autism & Developmental Medicine Institute. “We can now identify a genetic cause in up to 40 percent of children with neuropsychiatric disorders. This study will gather detailed descriptions of the clinical symptoms of these individuals to discover how to improve their medical care and outcomes.”

Researchers will recruit patients with known genetic causes of neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. Teams will then conduct in-depth genomic and clinical evaluations of patients and their families to determine the impact of genetics on these disorders.

The standardized data will be made available to research facilities across the country through the National Institute of Mental Health to accelerate future discoveries.

Geisinger has also worked to further incorporate genetics and genomic data into healthcare. The health system recently made the leap to include genomic sequencing in routine clinical care to advance precision medicine research. The project has the potential to identify virtually all patients who have an increased risk of certain early onset cancers and cardiac diseases.

To learn more about this study, click here.

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