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Approved research

Integrating social, environmental, genetic and geographical variation to infer aetiological and causal influences on health

Principal Investigator: Dr Oliver Davis
Approved Research ID: 21829
Approval date: June 1st 2017

Lay summary

The social influences, environments and even genomic variants that affect us depend in part on where we live. Our research has shown that geographical variation in social and environmental conditions both directly influence health and moderate the effect of other risk factors. We will ask: 1) How does the aetiology of mental and physical health vary spatially and with type of place? 2) Can this help us to identify specific genetic influences, and causal social and environmental influences? 3) How does genetic background and the environment at our place of birth influence where we choose to live in later life? Understanding geographical variation in the social, environmental and genetic aetiology of physical and mental health conditions will provide evidence for policy and health interventions to counter health inequalities in the UK, and inform intervention programmes internationally. With data from all individuals in Biobank, we will use exploratory statistical approaches and data visualisation to investigate geographical variation in social, environmental and genetic influences on health. Locations will allow us to link further environmental data to Biobank to explain these spatial patterns. We will also use the spatial and place-type interactions between environmental and genetic risk to develop approaches that strengthen our understanding of the causes of common complex disorders, and we will use birth location and current location to investigate how social, environmental and genetic characteristics influence us to seek out and construct our own environments. For these analyses we will use the full Biobank cohort to give us the statistical power to create reliable high-resolution maps of the risk factors and their moderators in health and disease.