Large-scale genomic epidemiology approaches to study the natural history of lung function and COPD


  • Prof Martin Tobin

    University of Leicester

Project summary

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the third commonest cause of death worldwide. Smokers are not equally at risk of COPD and not all patients with COPD are smokers. Genetics also plays a role. We have discovered variants in the DNA that affect lung health, but understanding which genes and proteins to target with new drugs needs more investigation. 

In this project we will use more detailed DNA data from hundreds of thousands of people, together with data that inform us how DNA variants function in cells of the body. We will study how useful these DNA variants are in predicting risk of COPD and whether they affect the risk of other diseases. We also want to study why some patients develop rapid exacerbations of their disease on multiple occasions while others do not. We need to develop methods to study exacerbations and related problems using the electronic medical records of consenting study participants. Using these methods we can study these medical conditions alongside the DNA variations that we and others measured at UK Biobank. 

The findings will take us towards more effective treatment for COPD and possibly towards better prevention of this debilitating disease.