A new US National Institutes of Health (NIH) program will award $25 million over five years to study how whole-genome sequencing in newborns can be used in medical care. Under the Genomic Sequencing and Newborn Screening Disorders program, four pilot projects will investigate the medical care issues, as well as the ethical, legal and social aspects of whole-genome and exome sequencing. The projects will analyze the data for genetic diseases of Mendelian inheritance and explore whether sequencing can provide useful medical information beyond what existing newborn screening tests already provide. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Human Genome Research Institute are funding four research teams at Brigham and Women's Hospital Boston, Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, the University of California (San Francisco) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The blood of nearly all newborns in the US is currently screened for biochemical changes indicating certain rare disorders, such as phenylketonuria that can be controlled with diet. DNA sequencing is used as a second-tier screen, to confirm cases of cystic fibrosis, for example. As next-generation sequencing becomes quicker and cheaper, screening an infant's genome is becoming more feasible. Some genetic tests are already available, but the medical implications of routine whole-genome sequencing and the ethical challenges are unknown. “The NIH's evaluation of the risks and benefits of using this rapidly changing tool in carefully controlled studies is wise thinking,” says co-investigator Richard Parad, associate professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Boston. “The right thing to do is try to generate an evidence base from which to use this rapidly developing tool.”