Podcast celebrates 10 years of major local health study with global impact

Podcast celebrates 10 years since the first participant joined the EXCEED study

Researchers behind a major health study involving 11,000 patients across the city and county have highlighted the benefits it has brought over the past 10 years.

Scientific Director Dr Catherine John and Principal Director Professor Martin Tobin for the EXCEED study, which stands for Extended Cohort for E-health, Environment and DNA, have been speaking as part of a newly released podcast series to celebrate 10 years since the first participant joined the study.

Led by the University of Leicester, EXCEED looks at the causes of long-term health conditions by collecting information about genes and lifestyle.

As part of the podcast, hosted by Turi King, the University’s Professor of Public Engagement and Genetics, they explained that since its inception 11,000 patients had consented to having their electronic health records open to researchers to look at health conditions including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, lipid levels and liver disease, thyroid disease, COVID-19, multiple long-term conditions, and mental health, among others.

Professor Tobin, from the University’s Department of Population Health Sciences, said: “We wanted to be able to answer questions relevant to understanding how long-term diseases are caused, evolve and progress and what genetic factors and lifestyle factors contribute to this.”

The podcast details how participants agree to having their health records used by the EXCEED study for up to 25 years and this enables researchers to study a broad range of diseases over a significant period, maximising the amount of credible information available.

Among the success stories is a greater understanding of thyroid disease and thyroid cancer which is currently benefitting patients.

Not only that but the study became highly valuable during the immergence of COVID-19 for collecting and feeding into other important studies globally on patient experiences, as well as understanding the genetics and wider impacts of it.

Dr John said: “About 54 studies have used information from EXCEED and 21 have been published in scientific journals. It’s very exciting to see the results coming out.”

It is hoped that more patients from wider racially and culturally diverse backgrounds will take part in EXCEED in the future.

The study is supported by the National Institute of Health and Care Research (NIHR) Leicester Biomedical Research Centre, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

The podcast is available on the NIHR Podcast channel where further podcasts on the study will also be available at a later date.