Johns Hopkins bioethics institute wins NIH grant to study genomics, infectious diseases

A program within the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics has won a grant of more than $4 million to advance its studies on the complex implications of genomic research.

The National Institutes of Health grant continues the work of the three-year-old GUIDE program, which follows the increasing use of genomics technology to prevent and treat infectious diseases and epidemics. The grant establishes this program as a specialized Center of Excellence in studying the ethical, legal, and social implications of genomics—one of only eight such centers that exist in the country right now.

The GUIDE program's multidisciplinary team is led by Gail Geller and Jeffrey Kahn of the Berman Institute.

"Johns Hopkins is uniquely suited to examine the ethical, legal, social and policy issues at the intersection of genomics and infectious disease, with a deep bench of global leaders in all of the relevant disciplines," Geller says.

With the grant from NIH's National Genome Research Institute, the program has funding to continue its research for the next four years.

The project has three specific focuses:

  • The research implications of discoveries of genetic variations in HIV and Hepatitis C transmission for at-risk urban groups
  • The public health policy implications of advances in vaccinomics for preventing pandemics
  • The clinical practice implications of using genomics to manage acute, high-consequence infectious diseases like Ebola and MRSA

GUIDE, which stands for "Genomic Uses in Infectious Disease & Epidemics," was first established as an exploratory center in fall 2013.

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