Systems Genetics

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Systems genetics studies are revealing how genetic variation affects phenotypes, ranging from molecular levels of information to manifest disease.
In the last few years, numerous high-throughput technologies have become available and are fundamentally changing the field of life science research. Whereas, traditionally, a limited number of phenotypes could be studied at any one time, it is now possible to study hundreds of thousands of phenotypes simultaneously. Hundreds of disease gene variants have now been identified that add to an individual’s risk of disease.
But how do these genetic variants eventually cause disease? What mechanisms do they use? This is what systems genetics is all about: finding out what genetic variants do, at different molecular levels. It is now possible to study different molecular levels at the same time, enabling us to identify the effects of these genetic variants on various molecular levels.
The high-throughput technologies lead to a tremendous amount of data, so it is important to determine what kinds of questions can be addressed, and which strategies should be used to answer them. The Systems Genetics group (Dept of Genetics, UMCG) is concentrating on these topics. By generating large, multi-omics datasets, and developing statistical algorithms and bioinformatics tools, we aim to gain insight into the downstream mechanisms of the genetic variants that cause disease.