The mapping of the genome gave scientists the means to investigate the link between human biological make-up and disease predisposition. But biorepositories of DNA samples enabling this type of research have been too small, and, often, too homogenous to be able to support conclusions relevant for entire populations. Also, it hasn't been possible to consider effects of environmental factors, such as air and water quality and healthy foods, or to easily obtain information on development of health conditions and risk factors. Without these crucial pieces, advance knowledge about the genetic and environmental basis of health and disease, and the availability of that knowledge to improve human health, has been limited.
Kaiser Permanente is building a massive genetic, environmental, and health database that will provide researchers unprecedented ability to determine which genes, environmental factors, lifestyles, and habits are linked with specific diseases and health conditions. In 2008, RWJF's Pioneer Portfolio enabled Kaiser to take a giant step forward with an $8.6 million award to gather, store, and protect its first 200,000 DNA samples and to develop policies to enable broad access to the databank. In 2009, the National Institutes of Health built upon our investment with a $24.8 million grant to support the genotyping of the first 100,000 of these samples and to link this information to decades' worth of historical clinical data, gathered from health surveys and Kaiser Permanente electronic health records. Kaiser aims to have collected 500,000 DNA samples by 2013, enabling groundbreaking research.
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