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Approved research

Uncover the genetic and phenotypic background for the disease network influencing women's life course health

Principal Investigator: Dr Haomin Yang
Approved Research ID: 61083
Approval date: April 30th 2020

Lay summary

Although women live a longer life than men, they are more likely to develop comorbid diseases which may influence their quality of life and healthy aging. Several diseases are known to be more prevalent in women, such as breast cancer, osteoporosis, hyperthyroidism and mental disorders. However, previous studies on women's health mainly focused on a limited number of diseases and their associations with selected risk factors in early life. As a result, the comprehensive view of disease network among women has not been thoroughly addressed yet. In order to prevent the women from adverse disease outcomes in their future life, the most effective approach is to early detect the disease or intervene on the risk factors. It is therefore important to study the temporal pattern of disease network, especially for the preclinical status and biomarkers for the diseases. Although the temporal associations between diseases have been studied in the general population, to date no study has included the preclinical status or risk predictors in disease network analysis, which may bring forward the timing for prevention. Besides the common environmental risk factor for different diseases, some genetic variants may also contribute to the disease network. Despite the fact that genetic mutation may influence the entire body and consequently cause diseases in different sites of body, the genetic background of the disease network has not been assessed. The aim of this study is therefore to use UK biobank data to investigate those diseases with a higher risk among women than men to identify the phenotypic network between these diseases. In order to reveal the underlying mechanism for the associated diseases, we will assess the common genetic and phenotypic risk factors for these diseases. We will also select several important female diseases for in-depth analysis, such as hyperthyroidism, osteoporosis and breast cancer. Since many women suffer from diseases influencing their life expectancy and quality, it is of great importance from the public health perspective to find methods to improve health status of women. Uncovering the genetic and phenotypic background for women's disease network will contribute to a better understanding of the comorbidity and development process of diseases, and give us the opportunity to start early with preventive measures that might prevent late complications and improve women's health, as well as to increase the cost-effectiveness of the health care system. The estimated duration of the project is 3 years.