Novo Nordisk Foundation, Harvard, MIT launch research center with focus on diabetes

The Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have launched an initiative […]

The Novo Nordisk Foundation, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have launched an initiative to gain insights into disease mechanisms.

In an effort to accelerate efforts to mine genetic data for insights into mechanisms, and eventually rationally designed treatments, the trio of entities launched the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Genomic Mechanisms of Disease based at the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Novo Nordisk’s foundation will support the launch with a grant of up to $47.5 million as the center aims to generate systematic datasets to help researchers understand how human genetic variants affect risk for common complex diseases, with all datasets to be shared freely with the research community, according to a news release.

Initially, the Novo Nordisk Foundation has committed to a five-year period (2021 to 2026) of support with the possibility of extending its support of the research center beyond that.

Copenhagen, Denmark-based Novo Nordisk’s foundation aims to launch and facilitate close collaborations between the Broad Institute and researchers at Danish universities, with the initial focus centered on understanding type 2 diabetes and obesity and mapping human gene regulation. The new research center will establish an exchange program to provide opportunities for Danish scientists to study genomic technologies at the Broad Institute while biomedical research is expanded in Denmark.

“With its leading universities and hospitals, Boston is renowned as an international epicenter for biomedical research and innovation—and the Broad Institute has earned a reputation of being a key nexus in this rich ecosystem,” Novo Nordisk Foundation SVP of biomedicine & health sciences Niels-Henrik von-Holstein-Rathlou said in the release. “By establishing this new center with the Broad Institute, we seek to help drive global research in health for the benefit of many.”

Research will be carried out at the Broad Institute and across Danish institutions, with scientists exchanging dedicated training programs for Danish researchers.

“Starting with our roots in the Human Genome Project, the Broad community has long believed that international collaboration is critical to advancing our knowledge of human disease and getting benefits more quickly to patients,” Broad Institute director Todd Golub said. “The Center for Genomic Mechanisms of Disease is a natural extension of our deep commitment to global collaborations but also our pursuit of foundational research.”

Broad Institute associate member Kasper Lage — also an associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, director of bioinformatics at the Massachusetts General Hospital department of surgery and lead scientist at the Institute for Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Services, Capital Region of Denmark — will direct the new center.

“As someone who is both a Dane and a long-time member of the Broad Institute community, I am thrilled at the launch of this exciting new Center,” Lage said. “This collaborative initiative will give the next generation of Danish scientists the opportunity to benefit from the Broad’s unique technology platforms as well as our expertise in genomic technologies, gene regulation, and data science. I am grateful for the tremendous vision of the Novo Nordisk Foundation for this new type of collaborative initiative and to everyone there who made this exciting partnership possible.”

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