Our Studies

Viking Genes is a project including three studies, VIKING II, VIKING Health Study - Shetland and the Orkney Complex Disease Study. Read all about them here.

Logo for Viking 2 Study


VIKING II is our most recent study and was made possible thanks to Medical Research Council (MRC) funding.  We aim to better understand what might cause diseases such as heart disease, eye disease, stroke, diabetes and others.

We're looking to recruit 4,000 volunteers who have two or more grandparents from Orkney or Shetland. Volunteers are asked to complete a questionnaire and provide a saliva (spit) sample. They can complete the study in the comfort of their own home. 

The new recruitment will add to our earlier studies, called the VIKING Health Study - Shetland and Orkney Complex Disease Study. These studies involved 2,000 people from Orkney and 2,000 people from Shetland. 

VIKING II will bring our total number of volunteers, across all studies, up to 8,000 people. This allows us to further develop our research into important diseases such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease, kidney disease and more.

If you'd like to learn more about VIKING II, you can read about it in the link below:


If you're not yet part of one of our studies and believe you're eligible for this study, you can register using our online form:

Registration Form

Please note: This is not an ancestry DNA test

Our team is based at The University of Edinburgh, at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, Institute of Genetics and Cancer and the Usher Institute. Please email us at if you have any questions.

VIKING Health Study - Shetland

Clickimin Broch BBC Shetland

The Viking Health Study - Shetland finished recruiting in 2015. The study aims to discover the genes and variants that influence the risk of common, complex diseases.

Many common diseases are known as complex, because they're influenced by many 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.

From March 2013 – March 2015 we recruited 2,105 volunteers, with at least two grandparents from Shetland. Each volunteer completed a postal health survey questionnaire and attended a 2-hour measurement clinic. They also attended a 20-minute venepuncture clinic, to give a blood sample. The dedicated research clinic was based in Lerwick.

The success of the study is thanks to the people of Shetland, who have been exceptionally good at volunteering to take part. 

Orkney Complex Disease Study (ORCADES)

winter sunlight orkney

The Orkney Complex Disease Study (ORCADES) recruited volunteers from 2005 - 2011. It also aims to discover the genes and variants that influence the risk of common, complex 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 volunteers, in March 2011. Each volunteer attended a venepuncture clinic to give a blood sample. They also attended 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. Here, they had scans to look at bone strength and fat distribution. They also had 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. After that, 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 take part.