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DNA double helix

The China Kadoorie Biobank has joined the Global Biobank Meta-analysis Initiative (GBMI), a collaborative network of 23 biobanks, which has published its initial findings in Nature Genetics. This multi-ancestry initiative, involves more than 2.2 million individuals from four continents, and will improve the representation of diverse ancestries in large-scale genomic studies. This is important to ensure that the health benefits of genomic studies, including risk prediction and developing new treatments, are relevant and can be applied to populations worldwide.

Biobanks facilitate genome-wide association studies (GWAS) which have mapped genomic loci across a range of human diseases and traits. However, most biobanks are primarily composed of individuals of European ancestry. GBMI combines information from its member biobanks for a range of diseases, using methods which can ensure that GWAS conducted in diverse biobanks can be integrated despite differences in case definitions, recruitment strategies, and baseline characteristics. This collaborative effort improves GWAS power for diseases, benefits under-studied diseases, and improves risk prediction while also enabling the nomination of disease genes and drug candidates by incorporating gene and protein expression data and providing insight into the underlying biology of human diseases and traits.