College of Medicine partnership will advance study of disease risks among people of African descent

Howard University College of Medicine and First Genetic Trust Form Biobank for Research in individuals of AFRICAN descent… Howard University College of Medicine and First Genetic Trust Form Biobank for Research in individuals of AFRICAN descent Biobank will Advance Understanding of Disease Risks, Progression and Treatment

WASHINGTON, DC (May 16) – Howard University’s College of Medicine (HUCM) today announced a partnership with First Genetic Trust, Inc. (FGT) to develop the GRAD (Genomic Research in the African Diaspora) Biobank, a resource for genomics and clinical research in individuals of African descent. The first of its kind, the Grad Biobank will enable the clinical genomic research community to advance understanding of the genetic and biological bases for differential disease risk, disease progression and drug response.

“Howard University is especially pleased to be partnering with First Genetic Trust on this groundbreaking initiative,” said Floyd J. Malveaux, M.D., Ph.D., dean of HUCM. “The GRAD Biobank will provide an infrastructure that will enable Howard University and the research community to conduct urgently needed research on health issues that greatly affect the well-being of people of African descent. Our collaboration with First Genetic Trust will allow us to accelerate the development of the GRAD Biobank, using the most advanced technologies available.”

Georgia M. Dunston, Ph.D., chairman of microbiology and director of the National Human Genome Center (NHGC) at Howard said “Howard University has historically been a vanguard of the African and African-American community trust and is therefore the most appropriate institution to develop this initiative. In addition to producing and training leading physicians and health professionals, developing it will allow our students and faculty to participate in and develop expertise in medical technologies of the future while safeguarding the privacy and ensuring participation of our patients.”

HUCM and its NHGC are collaborating with FGT on the development and execution of the GRAD Biobank Program. The project will enroll persons of African descent, who will provide associated biosamples, medical history and genetic data, across diseases of significant importance. HUCM will utilize NHGC’s extensive genotyping and sequencing facilities in conjunction with FGT’s enTRUST® genetic banking system, a highly secure web-enabled genetic banking infrastructure developed specifically for large-scale genetic biobanking and translational genetic research. “Persons of African descent have been chronically underrepresented in clinical research, have suffered significantly higher rates of certain diseases, and have exhibited different efficacy responses to medicines, as well as different adverse drug event profiles, than other ethnic groups,” said Arthur Holden, chairman and CEO of FGT. “We are confident that this partnership will create a highly valuable resource for the global genetic and clinical research community, and ultimately, for patients of African descent.”

The GRAD Biobank will enroll approximately 25,000 individuals over a five-year period. Participants will initially be recruited via HUCM’s clinics and physician networks. As the program grows, recruitment will be expanded through HUCM’s alumni network to international locations via the enTRUST® platform. Recruitment for the BioBank and associated research programs will be conducted in strict compliance with the policies set forth by the HUCM Institutional Review Board and government regulations, especially those related to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

About Howard University’s College of Medicine

The Howard University College of Medicine first opened its doors as a medical department in 1868, just three years after the end of the Civil War. Today, while the College offers excellent research and research training opportunities, the major emphasis remains on preparing students to deliver h

June 23, 2003
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