• Queen Mary University of London
  • Barts Health NHS
  • Bradford NHS
  • Manchester Uni

About the study

Prevalence of diagnosed diabetes by ethnic group, 1999, England

Genes & Health is a huge long-term study of 100,000 people of Bangladeshi and Pakistani origin. We will link genes with health records, to study disease and treatments. Some volunteers may be invited for further studies. We are inviting volunteers to take part in two regions of the UK: East London (East London Genes & Health) and Bradford (Bradford Genes & Health).

Taking part is easy and quick, and involves providing a saliva (spit) sample and completing two short forms.

Bangladeshi and Pakistani people are the largest ethnic minority groups in East London. Pakistani people are the largest ethnic minority group in Bradford. In the UK as a whole these groups have five times the rates of diabetes than the rest of the population, and suffer poorer health by a number of other measures including cardiovascular disease and mental health.

Our study will look at the genetic makeup of volunteers and help researchers to understand more about the nature of disease in the community. Findings will also help researchers understand more about various health conditions that affect the population at large.

Why establish Genes & Health now?

In both East London and Bradford we have world class NHS and research facilities; these facilities, with excellence in biomedical research and electronic health records, provide a major opportunity for a study such as  Genes & Health to improve local health. The first duty of medical and research teams working at these facilities is to their local populations.


Few large research studies include people from South Asian populations. For example, a study in the USA (the Framingham Heart Study) led to major improvements in public health (people living an estimated 4 years longer than before), but because it was carried out mainly in white people, its risk estimates are inaccurate for local (British-) Bangladeshi and Pakistani people. Researchers at Queen Mary University of London helped overcome this with a large study (QRisk) that now includes data from the health records of nearly a million East Londoners, providing accurate estimates of risk for heart attack and stroke.

Similarly, many of the larger studies of genetic variation have mainly involved people of white European origin.

Genes & Health will bring equality and the benefits of genomics in modern medicine to our currently under-research-represented local communities. The study will establish the local community, Queen Mary University of London, Barts Health NHS Trust, primary healthcare groups, and the MedCity campus at the forefront of a new era of medicine.

How will the study be carried out?

Genes & Health is establishing a panel of tens of thousands of local volunteers. The volunteers will be asked to donate a small saliva (spit) sample and share their GP and hospital medical records in strict confidence with the study team. Volunteers will be asked to give their consent to be contacted again and some may be invited to participate in further health research studies on the basis of data gathered from their samples, health records and information provided.

Genes & Health is supporting studies looking at how genes influence disease. By looking more closely at how genes work, and how diseases develop, it will be possible to identify better treatments to cure or help prevent them.

Genes & Health will also support many other health research studies, details of these can be found on our research page.

Information and samples from the Genes & Health resource may be made available to other scientists working in health care research (scientists will not be able to identify the person who gave the sample), including universities and industry, which may be based in the UK, or worldwide. Genes & Health is a not-for-profit project.