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Approved research

Defining physical activity phenotypes based on objective measures and dissecting the genetic and phenotypic relationships of physical activity with diseases and health outcomes

Principal Investigator: Professor Hongyu Zhao
Approved Research ID: 29900
Approval date: August 1st 2017

Lay summary

Insufficient physical activity as a major public health concern is associated with increased disease risks and mortality. However, little is known about the genetic predispositions of physical activity and its relationships with diseases, partly due to absence of population-based cohorts with both genetic and phenotypic information. This project will define physical activity phenotypes based on accelerometry data, identify associated genetic components, and further examine the shared genetic and phenotypic architectures between physical activity and many human complex traits, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancers, to better understand the role of physical activity in disease etiology. This project will help researchers understand how to effectively utilize accelerometry data in physical activity studies. In addition, our results will provide fundamental insights into the genetic basis of physical activity and the complex genetic and phenotypic relationships between physical activity and a spectrum of diseases. Our proposed study will aid in developing effective public intervention strategies to improve population health. We will develop statistical and computational methods to extract informative metrics from accelerometry data and define phenotypes that best characterize physical activity. Then, we employ genetic data from UK Biobank to study the genetic basis of physical activity. Further, by integrating genetic data and phenotypic traits (e.g. from questionnaires, clinical examinations, and medical records), we study the genetic and phenotypic associations between physical activity and a variety of health outcomes. Since a major goal of this study is to systematically investigate the relationships between physical activity and a variety of complex diseases, we would like to request the full UK Biobank cohort subjects (n=500,000).