Mayo Clinic granted $3M to continue genomics, EMR research

Nearly a year after physicians at the Mayo Clinic showed that patients' genomic information stored in electronic medical records can help in disease prediction, the National Human Genome Research Institute is awarding Mayo and six other facilities $25 million over four years to build on that research. The hope is that EMR data, when combined with advances in genetics, ultimately will help provide more individualized medicine efforts and, in turn, increase quality of care.

Specifically, researchers at Mayo will examine genetic risk scores for heart attack and adverse drug reactions, according to principal investigator Dr. Iftikhar Kullo, a cardiologist at the Rochester, Minn.-based clinic. Mayo will receive $788,000 a year--$3 million in total--for its part in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) network.

"This is an opportunity to expand the number and scope of conditions that we can look at across a larger consortium of practices," Mayo biomedical informatics researcher Dr. Christopher Chute, Kullo's co-principal investigator, said in a statement. "We are beginning to integrate genomic information into electronic medical records with the goal of providing tools for physicians to meet the needs of patients."

Through July, researchers have found variants that are associated with dementia, cataracts and type 2 diabetes, among other diseases and conditions as part of the first phase of the eMERGE project. They will identify variants for 40 additional disease characteristics and symptoms as part of phase II efforts. The study will examine DNA from roughly 32,000 patients.

Other facilities that make up the eMERGE network include Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville; Group Health Cooperative and University of Washington, Seattle; Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill.; Geisinger Weis Center for Research, Danville, Pa.; Essentia Institute for Rural Health, Duluth, Minn.; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York. NHGRI, part of the National Institutes of Health, also will award upward of $1.6 million to each of three investigators next spring as part of three-year pediatric eMERGE studies.

To learn more:
- read this Mayo Clinic announcement
- here's the NIH announcement