Online applications are now being accepted for a National Institutes of Health program that will seek to solve mysterious medical conditions with a genetic basis.

Often such conditions send children and parents on a long medical odyssey as they seek to find out the source of their physical and development problems. A network of clinical and research centers across the country including Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital, will work to find answers.

In July 2014, the institutions received a $7.3 million, four-year grant to participate in this effort called the Undiagnosed Disease Network. Baylor, which is home to the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, will also serve as one of two DNA sequencing cores for the network.

Approximately 50 patients will be accepted each year. To apply for the program, visit: apply.undiagnosed.hms.harvard.edu.  

“This network brings experts from across the country together to help solve the most difficult medical cases,” said Dr. Brendan Lee, chair of molecular and human genetics at Baylor and the lead investigator at the College. “We hope to play an important role by bringing together our renowned experts in genetics, pediatrics and neurology at Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital.” 

Called the Undiagnosed Diseases Network Gateway, the application system sets the stage for the network to advance its core mission: to diagnose patients who suffer from conditions that physician specialists have been unable to diagnose despite extensive tests and investigations.  These diseases are difficult for doctors to diagnose because they are rarely seen, have not previously been described or are unrecognized forms of more common diseases.  

Other institutions with Undiagnosed Disease Network clinical sites include: the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD; Harvard Teaching Hospitals in Boston, Mass. (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital); Duke University with Columbia University in Durham, N.C.; Stanford University, in Palo Alto, Calif.; The University of California in Los Angeles and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.