RTI International scientists have won federal funding totaling nearly $7 million to develop standard measures for use in genetics research.

The project, called PhenX, is designed to help scientists link work in various fields as they seek to better understand how genetics and the environment ‘impact” health and disease.

PhenX, which is pronounced phoenix, is being funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health. The funding covers three years,

"In recent years, there have been many good studies looking at the relationship between genetics and various health conditions and diseases," said Carol Hamilton, a Ph.D. and director of bioinformatics at RTI. She is the project’s principal investigator.

"Unfortunately, the lack of standard measures in these studies often does not allow researchers to combine or compare their findings,” she added.

The project will collect information and work with scientists and health experts from 20 research specialties. The measures RTI develops based on correlation of smaller studies could be used in large-scale population genomic and epidemiologic programs, according to RTI.

"The ability to combine the results of these studies is critical to furthering our knowledge of the many complex relationships between genetics and environmental factors," Hamilton said. "The goal of our project is to make such integration possible."