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Approved Research

Genetic and lifestyle risk factors and their interaction in the prediction of end-organ damage - a conventional and machine-learning analytical approach

Principal Investigator: Dr Rudolph Schutte
Approved Research ID: 98651
Approval date: March 2nd 2023

Lay summary

The primary aim of this project is to utilize the large data set available in the UK biobank to investigate key genetic factors (also involving protein folding) and lifestyle determinants as well as their interactions in the prediction of end-organ damage. Lifestyle factors include e.g., tobacco, alcohol, high blood pressure, diet, high blood glucose, etc. Establishing and quantifying such associations is challenging due to potential confounding. For example, it is still widely believed that low-to-moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial for our coronary arteries while alcohol is a known toxin. By analysing data of the entire UK Biobank cohort, we can investigate such discrepancies using both conventional survival analysis but also confirm or refute such findings with machine learning approaches. In addition, we plan to study markers associated with lifestyle risk factors including inflammatory markers, lipid profile, markers of cardiovascular and renal structure and function etc. This will allow us to study how lifestyle behaviour, but also genetic mutations and their interactions relate to end organ damage. The project will last 36 months.

The high impact of this study stems from its ability to inform the public, health sector and policy makers to curb the low healthy life expectancy in the UK and elsewhere.