On the use of population-based registries in the clinical validation of genetic tests for disease susceptibility

Quanhe Yang, Muin J. Khoury, Steven S. Coughlin, Fengzhu Sun, W. Dana Flanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Many new genetic tests for susceptibility to adult-onset diseases are developed on the basis of selected and high-risk groups. Before such tests can be used in medical practice, however, epidemiologic studies must be conducted to evaluate their clinical sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive value in the general population. For many common adult-onset diseases, this process may take decades of follow-up. Method: We illustrate how clinical validation of new predictive genetic tests can be done retrospectively using case-control studies that are derived from population-based registries of diseases. We use the examples of birth defects and cancer registries to illustrate a hypothetical process by which such tests can be clinically validated. Results: We demonstrate how such epidemiologic studies can be successfully used to derive measures of a test's sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and of the population attributable fraction of disease due to the disease-susceptibility genes. Under certain assumptions, data derived from population-based case-control studies provide adequate estimates of lifetime risks for disease (penetrance) among people with specified genotypes. Conclusions: With adequate protections of human subjects, studies involving population-based registries of disease will increasingly become valuable in validating the numerous genetic tests that will emerge from advances in human genetic research and the Human Genome Project.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-192
Number of pages7
JournalGenetics in Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Case-control study
  • Epidemiologic methods
  • Genetic testing
  • Registries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics(clinical)


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