Researchers at the Marshfield Clinic in rural northern Wisconsin drew the initial blood samples last week in a project to establish the first US gene bank. Similar to an effort begun in Iceland in the 1990s, the Marshfield project is intended to gather data for basic linkage analysis and eventually for the purpose of offering personalized medicine.

The clinic serves 400,000 patients and Marshfield researchers hope in the next 18 months to gather data from 40,000 individuals, and eventually to obtain samples from 80,000 patients. While the local population lacks the extreme homogeneity of Iceland's long-established island population, the Wisconsin patients are a stable and relatively homogeneous group, mostly of central and northern European background, according to Catherine McCarty, co-principal investigator in the Personalized Medicine Research Project. "It is nearly half Germanic," she said.

The clinic's patient pool is also extremely stable with only three percent turnover annually, added Michael...

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