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Exploring How Your Genes Interact with the Environment

The Environmental Polymorphisms Registry (EPR) provides a unique resource for a variety of studies dedicated to clarifying the interaction of genetic and environmental determinants of human health. Nearly 20,000 participants have contributed biological samples (blood, DNA, and other materials) as well as disease and exposure data that support a wide range of research questions. Continuing enrollment and participation of these subjects, coupled with the ability to link their data with additional information (external data plus continuing surveys on exposures, follow-up clinic and lab-based sub-studies), is of increasing value in this era of personalized medicine.

DNA samples are available to scientists to study variations in genes (known as polymorphisms) that might be linked to common diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma and others. While many types of genes are studied as part of the EPR, the focus is on genes that may increase the risk of human disease when combined with environmental exposures. Alternatively, these genes may also decrease risk of disease by protecting individuals after environmental exposures.

EPR surveys are designed to collect health, family history of disease, environmental exposures, and lifestyle data. Information from questionnaires are used to identify EPR participants who may be eligible for follow-up studies based on their health, family history, or exposures. These surveys make the EPR more useful in answering research questions related to gene-environment interactions and help researchers to develop new ways of preventing, diagnosing, and treating common diseases.

The EPR is unique in that it is a "linked" DNA registry. DNA samples are coded with personal identification numbers (PINs) that are linked back to registrants' identities, survey responses about their health and environmental exposures, and contact information. This gives scientists the ability to ask registrants to come back and participate in a wide variety of voluntary follow-up studies based on their genetic, health, or exposure profiles.

We ask some EPR participants to join other studies with the purpose of studying how genetic differences affect our bodies, or whether they are involved in certain conditions. We also ask some participants to join follow-up studies based on health or exposure history, responses to EPR surveys, or other factors. More details can be found on the Follow-Up Studies page.

Learn more about the EPR and how we protect our registrants' privacy.

The EPR is sponsored by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), a part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Donate Your DNA! Click here for more info.

Portraits of diverse people


Last Reviewed: December 06, 2017

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