The Human Genome Project (HGP) has led to rapid advances in understanding genetic mechanisms underlying many complex human diseases. HGP stimulated the identification of millions of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that "tag" common variation in the genome and development of technologies to determine genotypes at these SNPs quickly and cost-effectively. These SNP panels are not widely used to conduct genome-wide and gene-centric association studies, and several high-profile discoveries have fueled interest in identifying and characterizing genes for complex human diseases. When integrated with other gene identification technologies such as transcript analysis and high-throughput DNA sequencing, gene identification strategies become increasingly complex. However, the interested researcher often has little or no experience in understanding or applying these techniques to the study of complex human diseases, and might develop a genetic study that includes the many pitfalls known to the more experienced investigator. To continue to spread the tools and knowledge gained through the HGP, we propose continuing our short course in genetic analysis methods for complex human diseases. The target audience for this course is the non-geneticist physician or biomedical researcher who needs a broad introduction to the field before planning a study. Since the first course (1994), we have continuously modified our curriculum to incorporate new approaches, techniques, and knowledge. To accommodate these new topics, we have developed web modules to provide introductions to Mendelian disease gene mapping, genetic linkage analysis, and principles of epidemiology for students to review prior to attending the course. The course now focuses on more advanced genetic analysis strategies for complex genetic traits and providing overviews of new technologies. As a broad introduction to the field, the course emphasizes study design, concepts, and resources rather than detailed statistical theory, molecular protocols or specific computer program instructions. Feedback from participants over the past fifteen years supports this approach and has provided key comments for improvement each year. Demand for the course continues to be strong, and continuing our efforts will allow hundreds of scientists to join the research community created by the HGP.
Researchers desiring to develop projects to study the genetic contribution to human diseases often lack the proper background to design the study. Since 1994, a four-day "short course" on genetic analysis methods for complex human diseases has trained hundreds of investigators now actively engaged in genetics research. Continuing the course will introduce hundreds more investigators to the field.