Sask. residents with family from Scottish Isles wanted for genetic research study

The study says the unique genetic identity of those with Northern Isles ancestry offers a rare opportunity to give a detailed picture on how genes are implicated in health.

The study is put on by the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom

Orkney, Scotland, is an archipelago north of Scotland. (

A genetic study in Scotland is looking for people in Saskatchewan with Northern Isles ancestry.

The University of Edinburgh study is called 'VIKING II.' 

People with at least two grandparents born in the Orkney or Shetland areas are being asked to join a genetic study. The two are small archipelagos and islands to the far north of Scotland and the United Kingdom. 

The study is aimed at improving medical treatments and understanding the causes of some conditions, such as: diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer. 

"We hope in the long term, this will bring us a better understanding which is the basis of new approaches to treat or prevent disease," lead researcher, Professor Jim Wilson said in a release. 

Professor Jim Wilson is the lead researcher for the Scottish study. (Submitted by Shane Canning)

The university is reaching out to people in Saskatchewan because of the number of people with Northern Isles family histories that are living in the province, the release said. 

"The unique genetic identity of those with Northern Isles ancestry offers a rare opportunity to give a detailed picture on how genes are implicated in health," the release said. 

Researchers are also hoping to talk to people in places like Chicago and Dunedin, N.Z. 

The Shetland coast is pictured in 2018. (Bridge Over the Atlantic)

The university is hoping about 4,000 people take part in the study. People interested in taking part can go to:

Anyone taking part will be asked to fill out an online questionnaire about health and lifestyle and complete a saliva sample kit — which will be analyzed by researchers, including genetic sequencing. 

The study is a joint project between the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen. 

"Better understanding the genetics of the Northern Isles will lead to better health care in the long run, both directly to the islanders but also worldwide," said Professor Zosia Miedzybrodzka with the University of Aberdeen. 


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