In an effort to support creation of a national research cohort of one million Americans as part of the Precision Medicine Initiative, the National Institutes of Health on Nov. 17 released the first set of funding opportunities that will lay the foundation for the study.

According to NIH Director Francis Collins, M.D., these projects will build a “solid infrastructure for the PMI Cohort Program” including a coordinating center, biobank, network of healthcare provider organizations, and participant mobile technologies.

Among other functions, the coordinating center will provide a set of analysis tools and perform data integration across a wide variety of data types, including participant self-report, sensor and app-generated data, as well as clinical data from electronic health record systems and individuals enrolled as direct volunteers. The biobank will establish methods and technologies for sample collection, processing, handling, management, storage, and providing all support services needed for biospecimen collection.

In addition, a Participant Technologies Center will develop, test, maintain, and upgrade PMI Cohort Program mobile apps and associated server systems that will provide enrollment, consent, data collection, and communication and feedback functions in a secure environment.

Also See: Patient Access to Data Critical to Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative

Of the $215 million requested in the President's fiscal year 2016 budget for the Precision Medicine Initiative, NIH would receive $200 million for the launch of the national cohort of more than a million volunteers who will be encouraged to share their genetic information and other health data to be used to expand current genomics research.

“Pending Congressional appropriations, NIH will begin building the infrastructure for this historic, first-of-its-kind study so enrollment in the cohort can begin in 2016,” said Collins. “It will take volunteers from all walks of life to build a resource that will help scientists answer a wide range of important health questions to improve treatments for a broad range of diseases and to prevent them in the first place."

Yesterday, the agency also announced a funding opportunity for a pilot program to inform the creation of the direct volunteer enrollment component of the cohort. The purpose of this effort is to invite applications for a prototype set of technologies and experiments that support the establishment of “innovative methods and technologies for data collection and management, and participant engagement.”

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