NIH Launches Genome Sequencing Program for Common, Rare Diseases

Genetic sequencing
Genetic sequencing
The CCDG and CMG programs aim to discover the genes and genomic variants that cause or contribute to various diseases.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will be funding a set of genome sequencing and analysis centers to focus research on understanding the genomic bases of both common and rare diseases.

Part of the NIH, the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has launched the Centers for Common Disease Genomics (CCDG), which will use genome sequencing to explore the genetics that contribute to common diseases such as stroke, heart disease, diabetes, and autism. A complementary program, the Centers for Mendelian Genomics (CMG), will continue investigating the genetics behind rare diseases that are generally inherited, such as cystic fibrosis and muscular dystrophy.

“Advances in DNA sequencing are creating tremendous new opportunities for exploring how the genome plays a role in human disease,” said NHGRI Director Eric Green, MD, PhD in a statement. “Our continued focus on both rare and common diseases promises to reveal important aspects about the genomic architecture of a wide range of human disorders.”

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The CCDG researchers aim to sequence an expected 150 000 to 200 000 genomes of people with these diseases, thereby improving understanding of how genomic differences influence disease risk. This will also allow the researchers to develop approaches and create models for using genome sequencing to study common diseases in the future.

Ultimately, the CCDG and CMG programs aim to discover the genes and genomic variants that cause or contribute to various diseases, which may lead to future improvements in diagnosis and potential treatments.

Funding of the programs will come from the NHGRI. Pending funding availability, the NHGRI will fund the CCDG for approximately $240 million and the CMG for $40 million over 4 years, and will also fund a new Coordinating Center for $4 million over 4 years to facilitate research collaborations among the grantees and to contribute to data analysis and program outreach.

The NIH institutes of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) will also contribute to the CCDG and CMG programs, and the National Eye Institute (NEI) will contribute to the CMG program.


NIH genome sequencing program targets the genomic bases of common, rare disease. NIH News Release. Published January 14, 2016. Accessed January 15, 2016.