Intermountain Healthcare and deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of Amgen based in Iceland, have announced a major joint collaboration and study of 500,000 genomes centred around discovering new connections between genetics and human diseases. The study represents the largest US DNA-mapping attempt from a single population.

The study is voluntary, with individuals having the option to receive their genetic test report should a clinically-significant gene mutation be identified. The data will be anonymised before it is used in research to further understanding of the human genome, which in turn should advance prediction and prevention of diseases such as cancer.

The study will look specifically at the genomes of 500,000 individuals from the patient population served by Intermountain, largely in Utah and Idaho.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and the National Health Service and UK Biobank in the UK, are both in the process of sequencing one million genomes over the next few years, but this study is set to provide Intermountain with the largest-ever combined genetic and healthcare outcomes database, furthering the cause of personal and precision medicine in the company.

Intermountain will begin by identifying those with inherited cancer syndrome, and will provide those individuals with counselling to make suitable lifestyle changes based on their diagnosis, but will also look into other markers for depression, schizophrenia, or heart diseases such as sudden cardiac death syndrome.