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Respiratory disease covers a diverse group of health conditions affecting the lungs and the airways, including both acute diseases such as the common cold, influenza, tuberculosis, and COVID-19 and chronic diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). After cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease is the second biggest cause of death worldwide. In high income countries, chronic respiratory diseases are the major causes of death; whereas in low income countries, respiratory infections particularly pneumonia and tuberculosis remain major causes of death in adults. Some countries have a high burden of both chronic respiratory diseases and respiratory infections. 

Previous work in CKB identified large variations both in the prevalence of airflow obstruction (measured by lung function test and a hallmark of COPD) and in the management of COPD across ten study areas in China. Our research also found an increased risk of cardiovascular disease in people with airflow obstruction. Moreover, CKB has contributed data to major international multi-ancestry consortia related to COPD and lung function. 

We will continue to study the causal relevance of conventional and novel non-genetic and genetic risk factors of common and less common respiratory diseases, and to study the potential links between respiratory diseases and other conditions.

Our current and planned work aims: 

  • to examine the prevalence, characteristics, risk factors and prognosis of different respiratory diseases in Chinese adults;
  • to investigate the link between respiratory diseases and multi-morbidity of other conditions;
  • to investigate the associations of multi-omics and infectious markers with risk of respiratory disease to identify potentially modifiable targets for treatment and prevention;
  • to identify and characterise genetic associations with different respiratory diseases.

To address these research questions, we will use data from CKB and other biobanks and will continue to participate in worldwide genetic consortia.