Northwest Genomics Center


To support the purchase and installation of four of the 12 state-of-the-art gene sequencers needed to launch the new Northwest Genomics Center

Anticipated Impact: 

Discovery of genetic influences for major diseases, which may ultimately be translated into new personalized approaches for preventing, diagnosing, and treating those conditions


The Northwest Genomics Center, established through a $25 million grant to Dr. Nickerson from the National Institutes of Health (NIH)'s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the NIH Office of the Director, will study the genetic factors underlying common heart, lung, and blood diseases. The federal award, which was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, included aggressive timelines for the set-up of the Center. The LSDF Opportunity grant, which was awarded outside of the 2009 competition process in response to the rapid need for funding and the Center's extraordinary potential, will provide critical equipment to help ensure that the Center is fully operational by the federal deadline.

The Northwest Genomics Center will sequence the protein-coding regions (exomes) of thousands of individuals who participated in NHLBI's long-term studies of cardiovascular, lung, and blood diseases, including the Framingham Heart Study and the Women's Health Initiative. The combination of sequence data from the Center with the extensive clinical data from the population studies will enable the discovery of genetic influences for diseases that cause significant disability and death in Washington and nationwide. This genetic knowledge may ultimately be translated into new personalized approaches for preventing, diagnosing, and treating major disease. The location of the Center in Seattle will position Washington as a leader in genetic medicine.

Funding for the Opportunity Grant comes from Washington's allocation of bonus payments under the Master Tobacco Settlement, revenues arising from multi-state litigation with tobacco product manufacturers. Twenty-nine grants were previously awarded through the tobacco settlement and/or donor contributions.

See also:

Cardiovascular/Lung Disease Genetics
Medical Genetics/Genomics

Grant Update

Principal Investigator:
Debbie Nickerson
Grantee Organization:
University of Washington
Grant Title:
Northwest Genomics Center
Grant Cohort and Year:
2009 Opportunity (05)
Grant Period:
10/19/2009 - 10/18/2011 (Completed)
Grant Amount:
Since establishing the Northwest Genomics Center (NWGC) at the University of Washington, led by Dr. Debbie Nickerson, we have completed exome (protein coding regions) sequencing of 3,639 patient samples with various rare and common forms of lung, heart and blood diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the leading cause of death in the United States is heart disease, followed closely by death from cancer. Among cancer deaths, more people in the US die from lung cancer than any other type of cancer. By providing researchers and physicians with tools to better evaluate patients and to identify the genetic causes of disease, the NWGC can have a major impact on our understanding of disease and potential treatment options. We continue to increase the sequencing capacity of our center and will enter into new collaborations with investigators in the State as a result.

Impact in Washington

Location of LSDF Grantee
Locations of Collaborations/Areas of Impact

Legislative Districts:
11, 34, 36, 37, 43, 46

Health Impacts

Cardiovascular/Lung Disease Genetics
Medical Genetics/Genomics