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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Fully Automated Storage Creates an Open Source for Genetic Epidemiology

Over the last two decades, genetic epidemiology has demonstrated its ability to identify single genes of large effect through family studies. Knowledge of the human genome sequence and its major variants should now permit investigators to identify genes, individually of small effect, that modify the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors. It is this interaction that is believed to lead to common diseases. These considerations led the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) to identify genetic epidemiology as a strategically important area for translating genome sequence into human health benefits. In October 2000 it announced awards to permit investigators to collect 40,000 DNA samples from patient cohorts and case-control series, and to deposit them in a national DNA bank so as to enable third party access. The awards encompassed diseases listed in Table 1.

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By Dr Martin Yuille, Chief Scientific Officer and Dr Cheng-Eng Ang,
MRC DNA Banking Network Manager at MRC geneservice

Dr Martin Yuille is Chief Scientific Officer at MRC geneservice, a branch of the MRC that provides products and services to the biomedical research community. Educated at Oxford and Edinburgh, he undertook post-doctoral research in Genetics and Haematological Oncology at Cambridge, Stanford and State University of New York. He joined the MRC in 2001 from the Institute of Cancer Research in London where he led a team investigating familial leukaemia and discovered the role of the ataxia telangiectasia gene in certain sporadic leukaemias.


Dr Cheng-Eng Ang, educated in Singapore and at Glasgow University obtained her PhD in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Manchester. She went on to pursue post-doctoral research in Molecular Immunology at the Institute of Animal Health in the UK and the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Singapore. She was working in a private cord blood banking start-up company before joining MRC geneservice in 2003 as the MRC DNA Banking Network Manager.

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Dr Martin Yuille
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Dr Cheng-Eng Ang
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