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The importance of increasing population diversity in genetic studies of type 2 diabetes and related glycaemic traits – published online 30/09/2021

Barroso graphical abstract

Inês Barroso

Genetic studies of type 2 diabetes and related traits (e.g. glucose, insulin or HbA1c levels) have revealed hundreds of trait-associated loci and increased knowledge of related biological pathways. However, expanding genetic studies to reflect the diversity of individuals with type 2 diabetes has been much slower. In this issue, Inês Barroso ( summarises the key advances made by genome-wide association studies of type 2 diabetes and related glycaemic traits that have included populations of diverse ancestry. Four main areas that benefit from population diversity are discussed: trait-associated locus discovery, improved understanding of the genetic architecture of these traits across populations, refinement of association signals for causal variant identification, and genetic approaches for precision medicine. The author states that expansion of genetic and genomic studies to encompass more diverse populations promises to deliver more equitable precision medicine. However, she also highlights that it is essential that these studies are conducted in ways that build local research capacity and scientific leadership. The figures from this review are available as a downloadable slideset.

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