by Jocelyn Kaiser
"Researchers who have assembled a trove of genetic and medical data on 100,000 northern Californians unveiled their initial findings here this week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG). The effort, which may be the largest such "biobank" in the United States, has already yielded an intriguing connection between mortality and telomeres, the protective DNA sequences that cap chromosome ends, and found new links between genetic variants and disease traits. And that's just the beginning, say the biobank's curators at Kaiser Permanente (KP), the giant health care organization.
The project is one of many that aim to collect medical and DNA data on vast numbers of people and look for links between diseases, lifestyle factors, traits, and genes. More than a decade ago, the company deCODE genetics in Iceland led the way with a biobank now holding data on 140,000 Icelanders; and the UK Biobank, which has enrolled 500,000 people but hasn't yet tested their DNA, may be the largest such study in the world...."