Biochild - Genetics and Systems Biology of Childhood Obesity in India and Denmark – University of Copenhagen



The BioChild project is a large strategic research collaboration initiative between Denmark and India, focusing on individual human health and lifestyle diseases. The project will use extremely valuable resources of childhood cohorts and a pig model, already developed in Denmark and India, to identify and characterize human variation associated with childhood obesity and to unravel their genetic networks and biological pathways. The BioChild project is headed by Professor Haja Kadarmideen in Denmark and Dr. Dwaipayan Bharadwaj in India.

Childhood obesity is accompanied by serious complications, including the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, which could lead to high mortality and co-morbidity. These diseases impose enormous costs on the health care systems and lower the quality of life in India and Denmark. In this project, around 25 scientific staff from Denmark and India will seek to reveal which genes and DNA variants cause obesity and related metabolic diseases in children from the two countries and provide diagnostic genetic markers, prognostic biomarkers, insights into underlying systems biology and mechanisms of gene-based therapy based on individual genetic make-up.

We will use the state-of-the-art HumanCoreExome Bead Chip to look at over half a million DNA variants on the human genome and their relationship with obesity and obesity-related biochemical compounds in blood in about 6000 children from India and Denmark. Further, in order to understand the systems biology and pathogenesis of human obesity and related metabolic syndrome, we will use a specifically designed ‘pig obesity model’ for human obesity that consists of around 500 pigs, a range of obesity phenotypes, 60,000 DNA markers and gene expression profiles from various tissues. In order to achieve these goals, the project team will develop and apply cutting-edge quantitative genetics, statistical genetics and systems biology methods and tools.

The main impact will be the identification of biomarkers and causative variations that will help us identify subtypes of obesity and help related biomedical and biotechnology industries to develop preventive medicine measures in both countries.

The joint Indo-Danish project has been granted 9.5 million Danish kroner from the Programme Commission on Individuals, Disease and Society under the Danish Council for Strategic Research and the equivalent of 4 million Danish kroner from the Department of Biotechnology of the Indian Ministry of Science and Technology. The project will run for four years from May 2012.