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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Genetic and Genomic Epidemiology?

Genetic Epidemiology is “a science which deals with the aetiology, distribution, and control of disease in groups of relatives and with inherited causes of disease in populations’, defined by Morton NE in 1982 (Outline of genetic epidemiology. Basel: S Karger). With the completion of the Human Genome Project and substantial advance in analytical technology such as genotyping technology, the genetic epidemiology study in large number of individuals at the genome level has become realistic technically and economically. Nowadays scientists are able to efficiently perform genome-wide study of genetic variations and correlate the genetic variations to health and disease related phenotypes in populations.  Learn more about Human Genome Project


What diseases ENGAGE aims to tackle ?

ENGAGE aims to tackle multi-factorial and complex diseases. In consideration of their importance for Europe and global health, ENGAGE has an initial focus on cardiovascular and metabolic disease and related traits components, as well as behavioural and psychiatric phenotypes. 
Through the pipeline platform developed by the Consortium, ENGAGE will expand the effort to other important disease areas in the future.


How ENGAGE deals with ethical considerations?

Key ethical issues in ENGAGE and in all biobanks-related international consortia studies that share data involve confidentiality, data security, consent and feedback to the participants regarding study results.
A key consideration in structuring the ENGAGE project was to include a research component on societal aspects that utilizes the ENGAGE project as an ‘in vivo’ design whereby relevant ethical and societal issues are analyzed within the framework of the project itself. For the purposes of the ENGAGE study, all samples will be coded, and no personal identifiers are used and all is made to protect the privacy of study participants. Only study samples that were consented and approved by the local ethical committee will be used for genetic and genomic epidemiological studies within ENGAGE.



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.