Orkney Complex Disease Study - ORCADES

The Orkney Complex Disease Study (ORCADES) recruited participants from 2005 - 2011 and aims to discover the genes and variants that influence the risk of common, complex diseases.

winter sunlight orkney

Many common diseases are known as complex, because they are influenced by multiple genes and environmental factors. Common, complex diseases include diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease, myopia, glaucoma and chronic kidney and lung disease. Finding the genes involved is the first step on the road to developing new ways of diagnosing and treating these diseases.

Many of these diseases run in families, therefore, we focussed our research on those who had at least two Orcadian grandparents. Orkney is also known for its isolation from mainland Scotland. 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.

After six years of collecting data, we finished recruitment of 2,080 participants in March 2011. Each participant attended a venepuncture clinic to give a blood sample and a cardiovascular measurement clinic as part of the ORCADES Cardiovascular Study. The majority also attended further clinics as part of the ORCADES Bone and Eye Studies, where they had scans to assess bone strength and fat distribution, cognitive function testing and eye measurements.

ORCADES measurements were performed in a mobile clinic (a converted lorry) on four of the North Isles of Orkney before we renovated premises in Kirkwall as a research centre. The success of the study is thanks to the people of Orkney that have been extremely good at volunteering to participate. ORCADES is now a platform resource for health research in Scotland.