Scheme: University Research Fellowship
Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Dates: Oct 2008-Sep 2011
Summary: Heart disease, stroke and diabetes are major causes of illness and death, both world-wide and in the UK, yet there is still much about these diseases that scientists do not understand. We know that both lifestyle (e.g. diet, smoking, exercise) and genes are important in determining our risk of getting these diseases, but whereas lifestyle risks are well understood, little is known about the genetic influences. Understanding the genetics is important firstly because if we know we are susceptible to a disease we can take steps to avoid becoming ill, such as making changes to our lifestyle or undergoing regular screening to detect early signs of disease (which are often easier to treat). Secondly by looking to see which versions of genes (“genetic variants”) are common amongst people who have e.g. high blood pressure, and then investigating what role these variants play, we can shed light on the fundamental biological processes that influence blood pressure and then design new drug treatments on the basis of this knowledge. We have run a large genetic study in the Orkney Islands in the north of Scotland for the last six years which has proved very successful and has led to many new insights into disease mechanisms, however there is still much to be done. Because of the fact that many people in this population are distant relatives, we can apply novel statistical techniques together with new technologies to accurately predict the genetic variants present in family members and so study even elusive rare genetic variants in a very cost effective manner. This information should improve our ability to predict disease susceptibility.
Dates: Oct 2003-Sep 2008
Summary: This project summary is not available for publication.