High-throughput technologies have opened new perspectives to unravel the genetic cause of various diseases or physiological traits, such as body mass index (BMI). Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) measure the correlation between genetic and phenotypic variation in large groups of individuals. However, the discovered genetic associations, even combined, account for only a small fraction of the BMI heritability – in part due to the complexity of obesity. Almost all previous studies assumed that the effect of all genetic variants is the same regardless of whether they are inherited from the mother or the father.
To fill this gap, in collaboration with Dr Clive Hoggart (Imperial College London) and Dr. Carlo Rivolta (University of Lausanne), we have developed a new approach for studying variants whose impact on obesity depends on their parental origin (parent-of-origin effects, POE). The results of this study, carried out at the University Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine (IUMSP) of the Lausanne Hospital (CHUV) and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics (SIB), were published on 31 July in the journal PLoS Genetics.