Advances in genomic technologies and methods have facilitated research that is producing significant insights into biology and disease. To further these advances, NHGRI supports the Genome Technology program, which aims to accelerate innovation, development, and early dissemination of genomic technologies. The development of completely novel approaches and the refinement of current technologies to achieve orders-of-magnitude improvements are foundational goals of the program. With these goals in mind, the Genome Technology program consists of a growing set of interrelated efforts that enable novel and refined technologies to proceed through discovery and development, towards commercialization and clinical utilization. These include:
- Novel Nucleic Acid Sequencing Technology Development. The goal of this initiative is to develop new technologies and improve the quality and efficiency of DNA sequencing and direct RNA sequencing through the support of approaches and instrumentation that will significantly advance the field of genomics.
- Novel Genomic Technology Development. This initiative seeks to catalyze the development and advancement of new technologies that can comprehensively analyze genomic features such as methods to evaluate gene regulation and nuclear organization, and the dynamics of genomic features in single and mixed populations of cells (excluding nucleic acid sequencing technologies).
- Novel Synthetic Nucleic Acid Technology Development. This initiative is focused on supporting the advancement of novel technologies and methods to inexpensively and accurately synthesize specified sequences of nucleic acids and synthetic constructs at the scale needed for genomics-based research.
Please visit the Funding Opportunities page for more information about the support for these efforts.
Each of these initiatives supports traditional research projects (R01 and R21) and small business awards (R43 and R44). NHGRI also supports investigator-initiated technology development projects that come in through NIH parent announcements as well as through research supported under the Centers of Excellence in Genomic Science (CEGS) program. Opportunities for coordinated interactions among the diverse community of researchers that contribute to NHGRI technology development are largely limited to activities that occur during yearly grantee meetings. Further, technologies supported under the current NHGRI Genome Technology program are being newly developed and continuously improved in response to scientific advances; however, they are not always widely promoted as resources that are disseminated and used by the broader biomedical research community. With establishment of the NHGRI Technology Development Coordinating Center, an infrastructure will be developed to address the need for closer interactions between these efforts. This will enable opportunities for collaboration among grantees, accelerated technology innovation, and improved dissemination of program advances and resources to the broader biomedical research community.
As outlined in RFA-HG-20-019, the Coordinating Center will expand the support and coordination of technology development efforts funded by NHGRI. The goal is to accelerate technology development and progress in the field of genomics. The TDCC will leverage varied expertise, including prior experience in coordinating large and complex multidisciplinary collaborative research efforts and appropriate expertise in the scientific areas covered by the Genome Technology program. The Coordinating Center’s objectives are outlined as follows:
Facilitate collaborations and promote standards in genomic technologies.
- The Coordinating Center organizes two annual 2-3-day investigator meetings per year – one for NHGRI’s Genome Technology program and one for the NHGRI CEGS program. Attendance of these meetings by the respective program grantees is required. Annual meetings for both programs are expected to serve as venues to facilitate sharing of research findings, promote the exchange of ideas, and enable discussion of opportunities, challenges, and emerging needs in genome technology development.
- The Coordinating Center leads efforts to coordinate, develop, and promote the uptake of standards for technologies supported by the Genome Technology program. This involves forming working groups to define metrics and develop benchmarking approaches. Groups will be composed of Genome Technology program grantees and involve discussion of existing standards and approaches, current methods used by grantees to benchmark their technologies, and identification of needs in standards development such as development of genomic technology reference standards for which currently none exist. As part of these efforts, the Coordinating Center will work with working group members to develop and organize recommendations that can be shared with the broader biomedical research community.
- The Coordinating Center is responsible for mediating outreach to programs within and outside of NIH that support standards development relevant to the interests of the Genome Technology program. The focus is on developing interactions to facilitate sharing of lessons learned, best practices, and existing standards that can be leveraged to enhance development and use of standards for genomic technologies.
- As needed, the Coordinating Center will establish working groups around other topics of great interest to the field of genomic technology development identified by program grantees in consultation with NHGRI staff.
Disseminate advances and develop outreach and community engagement approaches.
- The Coordinating Center is responsible for establishing a publicly accessible website for the Genome Technology program to share information such as supported technologies, resources, and program advances.
- The Coordinating Center is responsible for development of technology transfer informational resources. This is relevant to all with interests in commercializing genomic technologies and clinical utilization, especially for researchers at institutions with limited internal resources or experience in supporting the technology transfer process. The goal of these efforts is to provide resources that range from information about the fundamentals of intellectual property protections to identifying relevant applications and strategies for technology dissemination and adoption.
- In line with engagement of the community, the Coordinating Center develops outreach approaches and educational materials to engage program grantees and the broader biomedical research community. This may include activities such as webinars and presentations on technologies that range from overviews of basic technology concepts to new innovations in genome-based technologies. Materials developed will be wide-ranging to target a variety of researchers from trainees to established investigators.
Provide opportunity funds for promising small-scale work.
- The Coordinating Center manages and administers an Opportunity Funds program to support early and innovative pilot projects in priority areas aligned with the goals of the Genome Technology program. Funds for this program are provided as part of the Coordinating Center in years 2-4 and disbursed to successful applicants as approved by NHGRI.
- The Coordinating Center manages solicitation of project proposals, the review process, selection of projects recommended for funding, and disbursement of funds through subawards issued to individual investigators.
- The Coordinating Center is responsible for regularly monitoring and reporting on awardee progress, expenditures, and management of the Opportunity Funds program to NHGRI.