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Approved research

Testing the role of positive selection in recent rises of disease incidences

Principal Investigator: Professor Jianzhi Zhang
Approved Research ID: 48678
Approval date: May 7th 2019

Lay summary

A number of human diseases are known to have risen in prevalence in the last few decades, and many potential causes have been proposed and explored. We are particularly interested in the possibility that this increase in disease prevalence is attributable to natural selection either for the disease phenotype or phenotypes caused by the mutations associated with the disease. We propose to use UK Biobank to (i) confirm the increase in disease prevalence, (ii) examine changes in the frequencies of disease-associated alleles, and (iii) test whether such allele frequency changes indicate natural selection. Our analyses will help understand changes in disease prevalence in the contemporary human population, which can guide the search for novel therapies or prevention methods. Thus, our project fits the purpose of UK Biobank to 'improve the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of illness and promotion of health throughout society'.