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8/21/2000

NIH Starts Pharmacogenetics Network

Cheryl A. Thompson

Nearly $13 million has been awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund the first year’s work on a pharmacogenetics research network.

The network of researchers at nine universities and medical centers will investigate how various persons’ genetic make-up influences the actions, including adverse effects, of medications, NIH announced. Data will be stored in the Stanford Pharmacogenetics Knowledge Base, to be housed and operated by the university’s medical school in Palo Alto, Calif. The database will be freely accessible to scientists, NIH said.

Initial projects will investigate the following issues:

  • Which genes play a role in determining patients’ wide variety of responses to the three main types of asthma treatment, 
  • Whether genetic differences among patients can explain the variable responses to tamoxifen therapy, and how these differences play out, 
  • How variability in the genes encoding membrane transporters, which act as cellular gatekeepers, affect drug response, 
  • Which genetic differences play a role in how Mexican-Americans respond to two types of antidepressant drugs, 
  • How the benefits and toxicities from certain antineoplastic agents vary among people, 
  • What the full range is of known variations in genes encoding proteins important to the body’s handling and disposal of medications, hormones, and chemical messengers.

A second set of pharmacogenetics research projects will be funded in the coming year. NIH encourages potential applicants to submit a "letter of intent" by June 9. For more information, go to grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-GM-00-003.html.