Published 10 Oct 2018

CEO Peter Donnelly part of the team which applied sophisticated new statistical techniques to genetic information from the UK Biobank. Study involving 500,000 volunteers highlights the potential of big data to shed light on how our genetic code influences disease.

Scientists from Genomics plc were among the leaders of a study published in this week’s edition of Nature magazine on the release of genome-wide data from 500,000 participants of the UK Biobank. Professor Peter Donnelly, FRS, Founder and CEO, was joint senior author, and Dr Clare Bycroft, one of the company’s data scientists, was lead author of the paper, which, as the culmination of several years’ work, describes the largest genetic study ever undertaken. The data allow researchers to study a range of important questions such as the underlying genetics of disease, and the interactions between genetic and lifestyle factors, opening what the UK Biobank described as “a new era in health research”.

Professor Donnelly took part in the study while in his previous role as Director of the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford University and Dr Bycroft was also acting in an academic capacity as part of the Oxford team.

“This ground-breaking research demonstrates the power of genetics to reveal profound new insights into human health and biology, especially when huge amounts of data are combined with sophisticated data analysis,” said Professor Donnelly. “I am proud to have been part of this landmark study, which has shared its outputs openly with both the academic and commercial research communities.”

Genomics has developed a unique analysis engine which uses genetics to understand human biology and the likely efficacy and safety of potential novel medicines. The Genomics engine is the largest of its kind in the world, with over 100 billion data points. It links human genetic variation at over 14 million positions in the human genome to changes in 7,000 molecular, cellular, and physiological measurements and disease outcomes, including over 2,000 from the UK Biobank project itself. The company uses breakthrough proprietary machine learning and statistical algorithms to predict the impact of therapeutic interventions.

A link to the Nature paper, The UK Biobank resource with deep phenotype and genomic data, Bycroft et al, can be found here.

A link to the UK Biobank press release can be found here.


Ben Atwell and Andrew Ward at FTI Consulting
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