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NIH Expanding Undiagnosed Disease Network With New Grants

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health announced today that it has awarded research grants to five new clinical sites across the US to improve and accelerate the diagnosis of rare and undiagnosed conditions.

The new awards are part the NIH's Phase II of its Undiagnosed Disease Network (UDN), which was launched to build on the Undiagnosed Disease Program (UDP) at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. The UDN currently consists clinical academic sites located at the Baylor College of Medicine; Duke University and Columbia University; Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, and Massachusetts General Hospital at Harvard Medical School; Stanford Medicine; the University of California, Los Angeles; Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and the NIH UDP.

Five new clinical sites will join those locations, including the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and the Hospital of University of Pennsylvania; University of Miami School of Medicine; University of Utah; University of Washington School of Medicine; and Washington University in St. Louis. 

In addition to the clinical sites, Phase II of the UDN will include new research cores. The NIH has awarded a Metabolomics Core to the Mayo Clinic, which the institute said will provide "untargeted metabolomics and targeted biomarker analyses." The NIH has also awarded WUSTL a new Model Organisms Screening Center to increase zebrafish modeling capacity and add Caenorhabditis elegans as a new model system for the UDN.

Phase II of the UDN will also maintain the coordinating center at Harvard Medical School and University of Alabama at Birmingham, the genome sequencing core at Baylor College of Medicine, and the model organism screening center at Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Oregon, Eugene.

The UDN awards are managed by the National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The NIH estimated that the total investment planned for the UDN over the next four years will be about $100 million, and the grants will increase the geographic distribution of the nationwide network and number of individuals with access to a UDN clinical site.

"The UDN is pioneering a new personalized medicine model for helping those patients who have historically been the most difficult for the medical community to diagnose," James Anderson, NIH Director of Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives, said in a statement. "By bringing together a nationwide network of top clinicians and laboratory researchers using the most up-to-date medical technology and knowledge, the UDN is able to provide hope to these patients, and in many cases, discover a diagnosis."