The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is inviting applications proposing “to explore the implications, challenges and opportunities associated with the possible use of genomic sequence information in the newborn period.” While each project is limited to a $1.25-million budget and a five-year timeline, the total to be awarded will be $25 million. Letters of intent are due by October 19, 2012, and applications must be submitted by November 19.  

Co-funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), the program asks researchers to consider, among other matters (i) “For disorders currently screened for in newborns, how can genomic sequencing replicate or add to known newborn screening testing?”; (ii) “What knowledge could genomic sequencing of newborns provide about conditions not currently screened for in newborns?”; and (iii) “What additional information could be learned from genomic sequencing that is relevant to the clinical care of newborns?”  

According to NHGRI epidemiologist Anastasia Wise, “Pilot studies funded under this program will be useful to determine whether or not having genome sequence information contributes to improved clinical care of newborns.” An NICHD spokesperson said that while “the use of expanded genomic information has the potential to significantly impact newborn screening in both the clinical and public health setting, . . . it is vital that the use of genomic technology in newborns is explored in a thoughtful manner by teams of scientists who develop technology, treat children, and examine the ethical, legal and societal implications of implementing such programs.” See National Institutes of Health News, August 9, 2012.