Today at the Science Museum in London, as part of a ceremony for the 10th anniversary of the completion of the first draft of the human genome, the Wellcome Trust announced the UK10K project to sequence the genomes of 10,000 people in the United Kingdom over the next 3 years. According to Richard Durbin, the leader of the UK10K project, the mammoth biomedical charity will commit about £10 million to this ambitious effort, which is intended to identify rare gene variants underlying illnesses that include obesity and schizophrenia.
Researchers plan to sequence the full genomes of about 4000 Brits already participating in long-running research studies; half will be from a major study of twins in the United Kingdom and the other half from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Durbin, who's at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, U.K., says that the project will look for insertions and deletions in each person's genome, as well as other subtle mutations, and attempt to associate those variations with any conditions afflicting the person. Many of the people volunteering for the study have been tracked since birth and have been the subject of repeated physiological measurements, he notes.