RTI wins NIH support to advance web-based toolkit for genetics research

With the support of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), RTI International plans to enhance a web-based system that enables researchers to connect the dots between complex genetics, health, disease and other data, the group announced.

Research Triangle Park, NC-based RTI scored a four-year, $5.3 million award from the NIH's NHGRI for updating its PhenX software. As scientists scramble to understand what genetics info means about human health, the PhenX toolkit provides resources to do just that. And the grant support will enable RTI to make technical enhancements to the toolkit as well as translate protocols of the system into Chinese and Spanish.

Genetic and genomic studies have amassed stockpiles of information about the code of life, yet understanding how those data relate to disease and health outcomes has become one of the biggest pursuits in biomedical research. Other platforms such as tranSMART from Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) have been tackling similar issues in how to connect biological and healthcare data.

PhenX users are expected to gain improved measurement tools that make it easier to compare results from different studies. The web-based toolkit has 339 measures of phenotypes and exposures already.

"The PhenX Toolkit is a great resource for investigators who would like to strategically expand their study design by adding a few standard measures," Carol Hamilton, RTI's director of bioinformatics, said in a statement. "Because common, complex diseases share many risk factors, identification of these factors increases with the use of common measures in research studies."

- here's the release
- see the item from the Triangle Business Journal