David Talbot
Technology Review
October 22, 2009

[efoods]Plans for genetic analyses of 100,000 older Californians–the first time genetic data will be generated for such a large and diverse group–will accelerate research into environmental and genetic causes of disease, researchers say.

“This is a force multiplier with respect to genome-wide association studies,” says Cathy Schaefer, a research scientist at Kaiser Permanente, a health-care provider based in Oakland, CA, whose patients will be involved. Researchers will be able to study the data and seek insights into the interplay between genes, the environment, and disease, thanks to access to detailed electronic health records, patient surveys, and even records of environmental conditions where the patients live and work.

“The importance of this project is that it will, almost overnight–well, in two years–produce a very large amount of genetic and phenotypic data that a large number of investigators and scientists can begin asking questions of, rather than having to gather data first,” Schaefer says.

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