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RTI International to Expand Resource for Genomic Research

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. –As part of a new award from the National Human Genome Research Institute, RTI International will expand the PhenX Toolkit, a web-based resource that supports collaborative genomics and biomedical research. 

Use of PhenX measures will help researchers understand the relationships between genetics, health, disease and environment.

The goals of the four-year, $5.3 million award, the Genomic Resource Grant for PhenX Toolkit include updating and expanding the Toolkit, integrating Chinese and Spanish translations of PhenX protocols and mapping PhenX variables to all completed studies in the database of Genotypes and Phenotypes (dbGaP).

“This award gives the PhenX team the opportunity to address the evolving needs of the scientific community by enhancing the content and features of the Toolkit,” said Carol M. Hamilton, Ph.D., director of bioinformatics at RTI and PhenX principal investigator.  “The use of PhenX measures increases the opportunities for researchers to combine or compare their findings, thus increasing the impact of each individual study.”

The PhenX Toolkit, a web-based catalog of 339 well-established measures of phenotypes and exposures, combines data from a variety of studies and allows investigators to expand a study design beyond the primary research focus.  Improvements to PhenX measurements will increase the overall impact of individual studies by making it easier to compare and combine data.

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

PhenX is driven by the scientific community and decisions are reached using an established consensus process.  Since 2007, the RTI-led PhenX project has engaged working groups of experts to select high-priority measures and a steering committee to provide guidance and policy making decisions.

The PhenX Toolkit currently has more than 1,100 registered users and has been cited by multiple publications and articles. The Toolkit is publically available at no cost at www.phenxtoolkit.org.