The prevalence of obesity has increased steadily over the past 30 years, causing not only serious personal health problems but also imposing a substantial economic burden on societies. While an obesogenic environment that promotes excessive calorie intake and discourages physical activity is an important driver of this obesity epidemic, twin and family studies have shown that 40 to 70% of all inter-individual variation in obesity susceptibility is due to the fact that people differ genetically.
By identifying genetic variants that influence the risk of obesity and related metabolic traits, we aim to gain in insight the biological pathways through which these genes and their proteins control body weight and increase risk of metabolic disease. In addition, we examine whether a healthy lifestyle can reduce one’s genetic susceptibility.
The Mount Sinai BioMe Biobank, an electronic medical record (EMR)-linked clinical care biobank that comprises more than 30,000 participants recruited from Northern Manhattan, provides the unique opportunity to study common, low-frequency and rare genetic variants in individuals from Hispanic, African and European ancestry for a wide spectrum disease and health outcomes.