Genes are the basic “instruction book” for the cells that make up our bodies, and are made out of DNA. The DNA of a person is more than 99% the same as the DNA of any other unrelated person. But no two people have exactly the same DNA except identical twins. Differences in DNA are called genetic variations. They explain some of the physical differences among people, and partly explain why some people get diseases like cancer, diabetes, asthma, and depression, while others do not. Such diseases may also be affected by factors like diet, exercise, smoking, and pollution in the environment, which makes it hard to figure out which genes affect the diseases.
The objectives of the project “Genome Russia” are to develop an open access web-based database containing anonymous information on the whole-genome sequences of at least 2,500 men and women originating from the different regions of Russia, whose ancestors are indigenous to the region for several generations, as well as the description the genome variations in these groups, the detection of the features that affect the spread of diseases and the creation of a database of medically-relevant genomic variants characteristic to the Russian population, which would be the basis for developing the principles of the future personalized medicine.
The data will be used for many purposes. However four immediate uses we anticipate are:
- Discover and catalogue new gene variants that are specific for Russian ethnic groups
- Identification of genetic variants that may affect the frequency of known diseases across the Russian peoples.
- Develop a Russian population based Haplotype map (HapMap), required to identify disease gene markers specific for high incidence Russian diseases.
- Interpret laws of the variability of human DNA to decipher historical migratory routes and settlings of the man in Russia, Europe and Asia.
The research database developed within the framework of the project will not include any personal information.
The project is sponsored by St. Petersburg State University, and Dobzhansky Center for Genome Bioinformatics at the St. Petersburg State University is the scientific coordinator of the research consortium established to carry out this project.