Europe has many well characterized population cohorts. Geneticists and epidemiologists are utilizing existing population cohorts of various types to understand disease pathogenesis. Researchers have successfully identified susceptible genes of several monogenic, rare diseases. However, most common diseases in human populations are complex, multi-factorial diseases which genetic architecture are difficult to decipher. The major challenge lies in the number of sample size to achieve sufficient statistical power, the need of robust and standardized method for statistical analysis and the demand of multi-disciplinary expertise.
The ENGAGE Partners have initially brought together datasets from over 80,000 genome-wide association (GWA) scans and cohort samples from 600,000 individuals. Coupled with advances in informatics and statistical design to enhance the power, the ENGAGE project will be able to identify the large number of novel disease-susceptibility variants undetectable in individual studies. ENGAGE is expected to provide clear proof-of-principle that genetic and genomic discoveries can be translated into diagnostic indicators for common diseases with the capacity to stratify risk, monitor disease progression and predict and monitor therapeutic response.