PerspectiveTranslational Genomics

Clues from the resilient

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Science  30 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6187, pp. 970-972
DOI: 10.1126/science.1255648

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The genetics approach to uncovering the causes of disease has focused mainly on finding the underlying primary mutations, with diseased individuals playing the leading role in this discovery. But as health care begins to focus more on preventive therapies, an emphasis on understanding how individuals remain healthy—“resilient” to disease—may provide insights into disease pathogenesis and new treatments. This view underlies “The Resilience Project” (, an effort to search broadly for these apparently healthy people (see the photo). There are, indeed, individuals whose genetics indicate exceptionally high risk of disease, yet they never show any signs of the disorder. What are the genetic and environmental factors that buffer disease for them? How can such information be gathered and harnessed most efficiently and effectively?