In the United States, it has been estimated that approximately 25-30 million Americans suffer from a rare disorder. Often times, these individuals go for long periods of time without a diagnosis. To aid these individuals, and to make progress in uncovering, understanding, and treating these disorders, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) established an intramural research program on undiagnosed diseases in 2008, known now as the Undiagnosed Diseases Program (UDP). Building on the success of this program in diagnosing both known and new diseases, the Common Fund’s Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) will aim to achieve this type of cross-disciplinary approach to disease diagnosis in academic medical centers around the United States.
The NIH Common Fund’s Undiagnosed Diseases Network will promote the use of genomic data in disease diagnosis and will engage basic researchers to elucidate the underlying disease mechanisms so that treatments may be identified. The program also will train clinicians in the use of contemporary genomic approaches to aid in disease diagnosis. The NIH expects to provide approximately $145 million in Common Fund support over the next seven years for the UDN.
The goal of the Common Fund Program is to catalyze the field of rare diseases research so that the national centers can continue to help patients, make discoveries, and train the physicians and scientists needed to tackle these challenging medical problems and treat the patients affected by these disorders.