The FinnGen genomics research project, a large public-private research initiative launched in 2017, released a new dataset this week, which has the potential to inform global health research efforts across many disease categories.
As part of the latest dataset, researchers produced 700,000 genomic variants and estimated 16 million genotypes. This technique, allowing researchers to study genetic markers that have not been directly genotyped, is especially effective in small founder populations, like Finns. Furthermore, the project researchers created and analyzed 1,800 disease endpoints. The results can be browsed online using the FinnGen web browser. Related summary statistics can be also downloaded free of charge.
FinnGen consortium academic and pharmaceutical industry partners aim to leverage the data to support biomedical discoveries for the benefit of public health.
The new dataset is based on aggregate and de-identified information from more than 135,000 Finnish biobank participants.
“We are grateful to the FinnGen participants for contributing to this important project,” said Heiko Runz, industry chair of the FinnGen Steering Committee and Head of Human Genetics at Biogen. “We hope that releasing this impressive dataset will support the broader scientific community in making important discoveries towards a better understanding and treatment of human disease.”
The first public FinnGen data release was done in January 2020 and has since been downloaded by 343 researchers from around the world. FinnGen data resources have already produced novel insights into the etiology of tens of diseases that impact millions of patients globally, including glaucoma and inflammatory bowel disease. The data provides many examples of Finnish enriched, rare variants that hamper normal function of the gene product and either make individuals more susceptible to a particular disease or offer protection against one.
“The mission of FinnGen is to maximize the biomedical discoveries from the medical and genome information of the Finnish population, for the benefit of the health of the Finnish population and the world,” said Aarno Palotie, FinnGen Scientific Director from the University of Helsinki. “Thus, we are extremely pleased to see that the research community has already found the data exciting and useful.”
“FinnGen is supported by private industry and Finnish public sources, but the full value of the discoveries for public good can only be realized when the results are available to biomedical researchers globally. These data releases demonstrate our commitment to that,” said Mark Daly, Director of FIMM.
FinnGen is one of the most ambitious studies of its kind and is based on broad academic-industrial collaboration between the Finnish biobanks and their respective Universities, University Hospitals, the Institute of Health and Welfare (THL), the Finnish Red Cross Blood Service and eleven international pharmaceutical companies: Abbvie, AstraZeneca, Biogen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Genentech (a member of the Roche Group), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Janssen, Maze Therapeutics, MSD (the tradename of Merck & Co., Inc, Kenilworth, NJ USA), Pfizer and Sanofi. The study is funded by the industrial partners and Business Finland (the Finnish innovation funding, trade, investment, and travel promotion organization).
Research Director Aarno Palotie
Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM),
HiLIFE, University of Helsinki
Tel. +358-40-567 0826 (Sari Kivikko)
To access the results: