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NIH names new clinical sites in Undiagnosed Diseases Network

Four-year, $43 million initiative engages broad expertise in study of mystery conditions

Below is an excerpt from National Institutes of Health News 

The National Institutes of Health has awarded grants to six medical centers around the country to select from the most difficult-to-solve medical cases and together develop effective approaches to diagnose them. The clinical sites will conduct clinical evaluation and scientific investigation in cases that involve patients with prolonged undiagnosed conditions.

Each clinical site will contribute local medical expertise to the NIH Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN). The network includes and is modeled after an NIH pilot program that has enrolled people with intractable medical conditions from nearly every state, the District of Columbia and seven foreign countries. The network builds on a program at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., that for the past six years has evaluated hundreds of patients and provided many diagnoses, often using genomic approaches, for rare conditions.

“Newly developed methods for genome sequencing now provide us amazingly powerful approaches for deciphering the causes of rare undiagnosed conditions,” said Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Human Genome Research Institute. “Along with robust clinical evaluations, genomics will play a central role in the UDN’s mission.” Dr. Green and Story Landis, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, co-chair the UDN working group.

“The UDN will look at diseases across all clinical specialties using new tools and methods of analysis for the identification of new diseases,” said Anastasia L. Wise, Ph.D., a program director in NHGRI’s Division of Genomic Medicine and co-coordinator of the UDN working group that oversees the development and implementation of the UDN. “The network will facilitate collaboration and shared use of genomic tools among the sites.”

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