Electronic Health Record Analysis Shows Which Diseases Run in Families

Acne is highly heritable, passed down through families via genes, but anxiety appears more strongly linked to environmental causes, according to a recent study that analyzed data from millions of electronic health records to estimate the heritability of hundreds of different traits and conditions. As reported by Columbia Newsroom, the findings, published in Cell by researchers at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) and NewYork-Presbyterian, could streamline efforts to understand and mitigate disease risk—especially for diseases with no known disease-associated genes.

“Knowledge of a condition’s heritability—how much the condition’s variability can be attributed to genes—is essential for understanding the biological causes of the disease and for precision medicine,” says study co-leader Nicholas Tatonetti, PhD, the Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics at Columbia and member of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center (HICCC). “It is clinically useful for estimating disease risk, customizing treatment, and tailoring patient care.”

Dr. Tatonetti specializes in advancing the application of data science in biology and health science. Researchers in his lab integrate their medical observations with systems and chemical biology models to not only explain drug effects, but also further understanding of basic biology and human disease. They focus also on integration of high throughput data capture technologies, such as next-generation genome and transcriptome sequencing, metabolomics and proteomics, with the electronic medical record to study the complex interplay between genetics, environment and disease. For the full article, visit CUIMC Newsroom.