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The sequencing of the human genome has allowed the study of the genetic architecture of common diseases: the number of genomic variants that contribute to risk of disease and their joint frequency and effect size distribution. Common diseases are polygenic, with many loci contributing to phenotype, and the cumulative burden of risk alleles determines individual risk in conjunction with environmental factors. Most risk loci occur in noncoding regions of the genome regulating cell- and context-specific gene expression. Although the effect sizes of most risk alleles are small, their cumulative effects in individuals, quantified as a polygenic (risk) score, can identify people at increased risk of disease, thereby facilitating prevention or early intervention.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1468 - 1473


Disease, Genetic Predisposition to Disease, Genetic Variation, Genome-Wide Association Study, Humans, Models, Genetic, Multifactorial Inheritance, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Rare Diseases, Selection, Genetic, Whole Genome Sequencing