The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is considering undertaking the largest population-based study ever done in the United States. NIH issued a request for information (RFI) from researchers earlier this month about the questions a large cohort study on the gene–environment interactions involved in common human diseases might ask, and how the study might be constructed.

A project of this kind is "the logical next step beyond the mapping of the human genome and doing case studies," said Terri Manolio, director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's epidemiology and biometry program.

Such a project would try to survey a representative sample of the US population, explained Manolio, and may include as many as 500,000 participants from all geographic, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups defined in the most recent US census. No funds have been appropriated for the project yet, and NIH officials are hesitant to speculate on...

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