Current Nutrition Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 400–411 | Cite as

Gene-Lifestyle Interactions in Complex Diseases: Design and Description of the GLACIER and VIKING Studies

  • Azra Kurbasic
  • Alaitz Poveda
  • Yan Chen
  • Åsa Ågren
  • Elisabeth Engberg
  • Frank B. Hu
  • Ingegerd Johansson
  • Ines Barroso
  • Anders Brändström
  • Göran Hallmans
  • Frida Renström
  • Paul W. Franks
Public Health and Translational Medicine (PW Franks, Section Editor)


Most complex diseases have well-established genetic and non-genetic risk factors. In some instances, these risk factors are likely to interact, whereby their joint effects convey a level of risk that is either significantly more or less than the sum of these risks. Characterizing these gene-environment interactions may help elucidate the biology of complex diseases, as well as to guide strategies for their targeted prevention. In most cases, the detection of gene-environment interactions will require sample sizes in excess of those needed to detect the marginal effects of the genetic and environmental risk factors. Although many consortia have been formed, comprising multiple diverse cohorts to detect gene-environment interactions, few robust examples of such interactions have been discovered. This may be because combining data across studies, usually through meta-analysis of summary data from the contributing cohorts, is often a statistically inefficient approach for the detection of gene-environment interactions. Ideally, single, very large and well-genotyped prospective cohorts, with validated measures of environmental risk factor and disease outcomes should be used to study interactions. The presence of strong founder effects within those cohorts might further strengthen the capacity to detect novel genetic effects and gene-environment interactions. Access to accurate genealogical data would also aid in studying the diploid nature of the human genome, such as genomic imprinting (parent-of-origin effects). Here we describe two studies from northern Sweden (the GLACIER and VIKING studies) that fulfill these characteristics.


Lifestyle Genetics Genealogy Biobank Complex disease Scandinavia 



We are grateful to the study participants whose data have contributed to the GLACIER and VIKING Studies through the studies that comprise the Northern Sweden Health and Disease Study. We are also thankful for the work and expertise of the many investigators and support staff who collected and managed data and biomaterials within those studies. The VIKING and GLACIER Studies have been primarily funded by the Swedish Research Council, Novo Nordisk Foundation, Swedish Heart Lung Foundation, Albert Påhlsson Foundation and the Swedish Diabetes Association (all grants to PWF).

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Azra Kurbasic declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Alaitz Poveda has received research support through a grant from the Basque Government.

Yan Chen declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Åsa Ågren declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Elisabeth Engberg declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Frank B. Hu declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Ingegerd Johansson declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ines Barroso, along with her spouse, owns stock in GlaxoSmithKline and Incyte Corporation.

Anders Brändström declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Göran Hallmans declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Frida Renström declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Paul W. Franks declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Azra Kurbasic
    • 1
  • Alaitz Poveda
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yan Chen
    • 1
  • Åsa Ågren
    • 3
  • Elisabeth Engberg
    • 4
  • Frank B. Hu
    • 5
  • Ingegerd Johansson
    • 6
  • Ines Barroso
    • 7
    • 8
    • 9
  • Anders Brändström
    • 4
  • Göran Hallmans
    • 3
    • 10
  • Frida Renström
    • 1
    • 3
  • Paul W. Franks
    • 1
    • 5
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Sciences, Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology UnitLund University, Skåne University Hospital MalmöMalmöSweden
  2. 2.Department of Genetics, Physical Anthropology and Animal Physiology, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of the Basque CountryBilbaoSpain
  3. 3.Department of Biobank ResearchUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  4. 4.Umeå Demographic DatabaseUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  5. 5.Department of NutritionHarvard School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  6. 6.Department of OdontologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  7. 7.Wellcome Trust Sanger InstituteCambridgeUK
  8. 8.Metabolic Research Laboratories Institute of Metabolic Science, Addenbrooke’s HospitalUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  9. 9.NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, Institute of Metabolic ScienceAddenbrooke’s HospitalCambridgeUK
  10. 10.Department of Public Health & Clinical MedicineUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden

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