A bid by Scotland's medical schools to help combat cancer, heart disease, stroke and mental illness is to put Scotland at the forefront of international genetic research.
The project, Genetic Health in the 21st Century, has won £1.8 million in the latest round of the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council's support for strategic research development.
Six collaborative projects have won a total of £7.7 million to strengthen research that is important to Scotland but lacks major funding.
David Porteous, professor of medical genetics at Edinburgh University, is leading the project. He said that Scots' poor lifestyle and eating habits predisposed them to these diseases. "But we still have a very large biological burden of disease and that has to be because of our genetic inheritance." The Human Genome Project has given researchers the knowledge to unravel the genetic risk factors, he said.
"By virtue of the large number of individuals who are at risk, we are well placed to find out which of the biological factors are the root cause," he said.
Bringing together the expertise of the five medical schools, in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews universities would allow a coordinated approach, he said. This would ensure people had early warning of the onset of disease, advice for long-term health and treatment tailored to their genetic makeup.