Mayo Clinic Awarded NIH Contract for Smallpox Genomics Research

Vaccine researchers at Mayo Clinic have been awarded a $10 million federal contract to study genetic susceptibility to smallpox and genomic-based risks to the smallpox vaccine.

This award underscores the confidence of the National Institutes of Health in our research capabilities and our track record, specifically our published research on vaccines for smallpox, anthrax and measles, said Gregory Poland, MD, head of Mayos vaccine research group and lead researcher on the project. This further strengthens Mayo Clinics mission in improving and protecting the health of people worldwide.

The contract from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is for $10.2 million over five years and supports establishment and operation of a population genetics analysis program. The programs would investigate immune-response gene polymorphisms that affect an individuals susceptibility to infection, as well as their response to vaccination. Researchers also will study potential cellular and hormonal responses to smallpox vaccination.

Poland says Mayo Clinics research expertise was a factor in the NIAID decision. A major strength is our 12 years of experience in performing exactly these types of studies with other live viral vaccine models.

Mayo Clinics resources as a genomics research center will also be integral in the effort. Genotyping of genomic DNA will be performed by the Mayo Genotyping Share Resource (GSR), a core laboratory under the direction of co-investigator Julie Cunningham, PhD. Other aspects of the research including bioinformatics -- the processing of the huge number of data points in this type of genomic research -- will involve Mayo biostatisticians and the Mayo Advanced Genomics Technology Center (AGTC).

This award to Dr. Poland is another tangible confirmation that Mayo is fast becoming a leader in applying the tools of genomics to the most pressing issues in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease, said Eric Wieben, PhD, director of the Mayo Genomics Research Center. The center is responsible for developing the AGTC.

The smallpox vaccine investigation is to begin immediately.

Source: Mayo Clinic