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NIH Common Fund to Support Extramural Undiagnosed Diseases and Extracellular RNA Communication Initiatives

July 6, 2012—Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., July 2 announced two new programs that will be funded from the NIH Common Fund.  The NIH Common Fund supports “goal-driven, research networks in which investigators generate data to solve technological problems, and/or otherwise pilot resources and tools that will be stimulatory to the broader research community. The research products of Common Fund programs are expected to catalyze disease-specific research supported by the NIH Institutes and Centers.” The two programs are scheduled to begin during fiscal year 2013.

The intramural Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP) will be expanded to “provide a new network of medical research centers focused on the discovery, diagnosis, and ultimately care of undiagnosed patients by capitalizing on recent advances in genomics and the infusion of basic researchers in clinical projects.”  According to NIH, “the Common Fund's UDP will test whether this type of cross-disciplinary approach to disease diagnosis is feasible to implement in academic medical centers around the country.”  NIH said it expects to provide the program with approximately $145 million in Common Fund support over the next seven years.

The second new initiative is the Common Fund's Extracellular RNA Communication program, which “will explore new ways in which cells communicate with each other using extracellular ribonucleic acids (RNAs)… The program will provide foundational information about the synthesis, distribution, uptake, and function of extracellular RNAs that are involved in cell-to-cell communication that is critical for basic cell function and health.” NIH said it expects to provide approximately $130 million in Common Fund support over the next five years for the program.

The NIH Common Fund is housed within the NIH Division of Program Coordination, Planning, and Strategic Initiatives (DPCPSI).


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Washington Highlights, a weekly electronic newsletter, features brief updates on the latest legislative and regulatory activities affecting medical schools and teaching hospitals.

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Jason Kleinman
Sr. Legislative Analyst, Govt. Relations
Telephone: 202-903-0806