Mayo wins $3M to develop cardiac risk assessment tools

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The National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) awarded the Mayo Clinic a $3 million, four-year grant to help bring genomic-based tools into cardiology clinical practice. The grant allows researchers at the Rochester, Minn.-based provider to continue collaborating with partners in the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics Network (eMERGE), a seven-site project that couples EMRs with DNA repositories.

“This is an opportunity to expand the number and scope of conditions that we can look at across a larger consortium of practices,” Christopher G. Chute, MD, DrPH, biomedical informatics researcher at the Mayo Clinic, said in a statement. “We are beginning to integrate genomic information into EMRs with the goal of providing tools for physicians to meet the needs of the patient.”

Mayo researchers anticipate that the project will lead to tools such as genetic risk scores for heart attacks and adverse drug reactions, said Iftikhar Kullo, MD, a cardiologist at Mayo who, with Chute, serves as co-principal investigator.

The award will support Phase II of eMERGE, which was launched in 2007 to develop data-driven approaches to personalize healthcare. The consortium concluded Phase I in July after identifying genetic variants associated with numerous diseases, including cardiac condition defects and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

In Phase II, the consortium will analyze DNA from 32,000 participants in an attempt to identify genes that cause or contribute up to 40 diseases and medically relevant traits, according to NHGRI. The Mayo group will integrate advances in the genetics of diseases of the heart and blood vessels with EMRs to develop clinically useful risk assessment tools.

NHGRI, part of the National Institutes of Health, announced Aug. 17 that it awarded a total of $25 million to the eMERGE network. Other awardees include Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.; Group Health Cooperative and University of Washington in Seattle; Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.; Geisinger Weis Center for Research in Danville, Pa.; Essentia Institute of Rural Health in Duluth, Minn.; and Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.