Oldham GP becomes 50,000th volunteer for genetic study to tackle inequality

A British South Asian genetic study launched to tackle health inequalities faced by the British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi populations has reached a record number of volunteers.

The Genes & Health study, led by Queen Mary University of London in partnership with King’s College London, is halfway to its goal of recruiting 100,000 volunteers by 2024.

The 50,000th volunteer has been appointed Cllr Zahid Chauhan of Oldham, Cabinet Member of the Council for Health and Social Care.

Cllr Chauhan, who is also a GP at Oldham, said: ‘British South Asians are underrepresented in research and have had terrible outcomes from the Covid pandemic.

“I am delighted to be the 50,000th volunteer for Genes & Health and the first for Manchester, shining a light on research into health inequalities across England.”

British South Asians have the highest rates of heart disease in the UK and are six times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than the rest of the UK population.

British Bangladeshis and British Pakistanis also had the worst Covid-19 outcomes in the UK.

The data from the 50,000 volunteers will be used by health researchers around the world, seeking to address the lack of diversity seen in current health care research.

The British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi populations have historically been underrepresented in the large sets of genetic data used by scientists, doctors and policy makers to guide healthcare decisions.

While the study has three sites in East London, Bradford and Manchester, British Pakistanis and British Bangladeshis from anywhere across the UK can take part by completing a short online questionnaire and submitting a saliva sample. to the research team by mail.

The study has already had a direct impact on dozens of volunteers identified with hereditary high cholesterol.

As a result, doctors from the Genes and Health team were able to steer them towards treatment to prevent life-threatening consequences of high cholesterol, such as heart attacks.

Genes & Health data has also been used to uncover important scientific discoveries such as: why Covid-19 affects some people more severely than others; a new treatment for a rare childhood kidney disease; and a new understanding of how nutrition relates to child growth.

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