Scots family study attracts more than 23,000 volunteers

21st March, 2011

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of the Biomedical Research Institute at the University of Dundee and lead on the Scottish Family Health Study.

One of the largest health studies ever launched in Scotland has now recruited more than 23,000 volunteers, all of them contributing to a project which could have a major impact on the people’s health for generations to come.

The Scottish Family Health Study (SFHS) was launched in 2006 and aims to track the health of thousands of Scottish families over many years, giving researchers a better understanding of how and why common diseases run in families. This in turn may lead to better forms of prevention and treatment being developed.

\'This study gives us a huge resource and the great feature of it is that these people are in family groups, so as the years go on we will gain great insights into how their health relates to one another,\' said Professor Andrew Morris, Director of the Biomedical Research Institute at the University of Dundee and lead on the SFHS.

\'Genetically inherited factors influence our risk of being affected by a number of common causes of ill health, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, obesity and stroke. We hope this study will help to unlock the secrets of Scots\' health and bring real health benefits to those living with disease and to the next generation.\'

The study is expected to run on for the next twenty years, tracking anonymised data from all of the volunteers’ health records.

\'We have had a fantastic response from people right across Scotland, more than 23,000 people will be involved in the study,\' said Professor Morris. \'Recruitment to the study will be ending soon, but really that is only the end of the beginning.

\'This study is going to generate a huge amount of really important data which will be of great value to researchers in this country and around the world for many years to come. It will help this generation, but it may be of even greater benefit to generations to come.\'

Already more then 50 scientific studies are using data gathered through the SFHS. These include collaborations with researchers around the world.

The study is funded by the Scottish Executive and is part of the wider Generation Scotland project, a unique venture which involves all five of Scotland\'s University medical schools and the NHS in Scotland. Around 30,000 people nationwide are enrolled in Generation Scotland projects.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Generation Scotland is one of the biggest and most ambitious medical genetics research programmes ever to take place in Scotland. In addition to the Scottish Family Health Study, it involves a number of complementary projects and sample collections, which are listed below:

Genetic Health in the 21st Century (GS:21CGH)
The aim of GS:21CGH is to gather genetic information about the inhabitants of different areas of Scotland, giving researchers a clearer picture of the genetic make-up of the Scottish population.

Donor DNA Databank (GS:3D)
GS:3D is a collection of thousands of DNA samples from the general population which is available to researchers who are investigating human diseases with a genetic component.

Biomarkers for Battling Chronic Diseases (GS:BBCD)
As Scotland\'s population ages and healthcare resources are put under increasing strain, there is an urgent need to be able to diagnose the onset and progression of common chronic conditions at the earliest possible stage so that preventative treatments can be given. This project aims to identify proteins that act as biomarkers to signal disease status.

For media enquiries contact:
Roddy Isles
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University of Dundee
Nethergate, Dundee, DD1 4HN
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E-MAIL: r.isles@dundee.ac.uk
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