The Viking Health Study - Shetland (VHSS) is a genetic epidemiology study based in an isolated population in the north of Scotland. It aims to discover the genes and variants in them which influence the risk of common, complex diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, myopia, glaucoma, chronic kidney and lung disease. Finding these genes is the first step on the road to developing new ways of diagnosing and treating these diseases.
VHSS is led by Dr Jim Wilson at the University of Edinburgh, on behalf of the QTL in Health and Disease programme at the MRC Human Genetics Unit. Recruitment of 2105 volunteers occurred over two years from March 2013-March 2015. Each participant attended a measurement clinic and a venepuncture clinic to give a fasting blood sample at a dedicated research centre in Lerwick. The success of the study is in no small part due to the fact that the people of Shetland have been exceptionally good at volunteering to participate. Subjects must have at least two Shetlandic grandparents in order to participate. Studies in isolated populations have a number of advantages for identifying genes, including the ability to use information on the inheritance of variants through a family. VHSS is now a platform resource for health research in Scotland.