Skip to navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer

Approved Research

Identifying genetic and environmental factors underpinning complex trait variation in humans

Principal Investigator: Professor Jian Yang
Approved Research ID: 66982
Approval date: November 10th 2020

Lay summary

Most human traits (including diseases) are influenced by many genetic and environmental factors. Population-based genetic studies have been proven valuable for identifying genetic factors responsible for the traits and for predicting an individual's risk of developing a disease. However, a widening knowledge gap exists between cutting-edge genetics research and current clinical practices. Besides the genetic factors, an increasing number of lifestyle and environmental factors that can trigger and exacerbate a condition have been documented. Thus, it is essential to collect genetic data and health records from a very large cohort (e.g., hundreds of thousands to millions of individuals) to identify the genetic and environmental factors and to yield clinically actionable disease predictors.

With the access to the UK Biobank data, we aim 1) to quantify the overall contribution of all the genetic factors to each of the traits; 2) to characterize individual genetic factors associated with the traits and to understand the biology underpinning the associations; 3) to identify environmental/lifestyle factors that are causally linked to diseases and to predict disease risks of currently healthy individuals by integrating both genetic and environmental/lifestyle factors. The duration of this project will be three years, from 2020.11 to 2023.11. The findings of this project are crucial to deepen the understanding of the disease etiology and prevention, are of great importance for public health, and are also in concordance with the UK Biobank's stated purpose. The combination of new data and new methods will take us into an era of personalized and precision treatments based on an individual's gene, environment, and lifestyle, which has the potential to have a significant impact on health care.