Prospects and pitfalls in whole genome association studies

Robert W Lawrence, David M Evans, Lon R Cardon

Abstract

Recent large-scale studies of common genetic variation throughout the human genome are making it feasible to conduct whole genome studies of genotype–phenotype associations. Such studies have the potential to uncover novel contributors to common complex traits and thus lead to insights into the aetiology of multifactorial phenotypes. Despite this promise, it is important to recognize that the availability of genetic markers and the ability to assay them at realistic cost does not guarantee success of this approach. There are a number of practical issues that require close attention, some forms of allelic architecture are not readily amenable to the association approach with even the most rigorous design, and doubtless new hurdles will emerge as the studies begin. Here we discuss the promise and current challenges of the whole genome approach, and raise some issues to consider in interpreting the results of the first whole genome studies.

Footnotes

  • One contribution of 12 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Genetic variation and human health’.

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