Our primary research interests focus on the identification of genes and genetic loci contributing to the risk of obesity and related metabolic traits.
We have been involved in gene - discovery since 2005, when ‘genome - wide association’ was introduced and have since actively contributed to many consortia that use this approach to identify genetic loci for a large number of metabolic traits.
By identifying genes that influence the risk of obesity and related metabolic traits, we aim to provide new insights in the mechanisms that regulate body weight and risk of metabolic disease. Eventually, such biological insights might results in a better tailored treatment or prevention.
Increasingly, our gene - discovery work also focuses on the identification of low - frequency variants through the implementation exome - chip genotyping and sequencing projects, not only in individuals of white European descent, but also in those of African and Hispanic decent.
We have established consortia to study the genetics of body fat percentage, circulating leptin levels, physical activity and heart rate and continue to invited studies for participation to study common and low-frequency variants.
We are actively involved in the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of ANthropometric Traits) Consortium, lead by Prof. Joel Hirschhorn, with whom we have discovered more than 90 common variants associated with body mass index (BMI; assesses overall body sizes), over 40 common variants for waist-to-hip ratio (WHR; assesses body fat distribution), and hundreds for height. The GIANT Consortium is currently inviting studies to participate in their ExomeChip efforts.