Brother and sister Jack and Sarah McCaffrey are elite athletes, both having won an All-Ireland GAA medal playing football for Dublin this September.

Is it genetics that has led to the siblings’ prowess in sport? That’s the type of question – not just for elite athletes but for people in general – researchers are trying to unravel in Ireland’s first large scale research study into the role of genetics on fitness and health.

Irish life-sciences company, Genomics Medicine Ireland Ltd (GMI) has partnered with University College Dublin’s (UCD) Institute for Sport and Health to undertake the GenoFit Research Study on UCD’s Belfield campus.

The study is combining advanced scientific technology in genomics, the study of all of a person’s genes, together with detailed lifestyle information to provide a comprehensive view of the potential genetic factors contributing to fitness and health.

Researchers hope that their work may result in the identification of specific genetic factors that protect an individual against the development of a particular health condition. Such findings could lead to the development of targeted interventions to improve our health in the future.

Jack McCaffrey, a final year UCD medical student, said, “I am absolutely delighted to be involved with the promotion of the GenoFit Research Study.”

“Fitness is something that has always interested me and been a part of my life and any opportunity to learn more about the area is always appreciated. Approaching the area from the genomic angle is something very new and exciting, and has the potential to unlock so much information in this field. It’s a project that I am really looking forward to following and I would encourage as many people as possible to get involved.”

“We’ve had huge interest in the GenoFit Research Study with volunteers from 18 to 80 years of age taking part. By volunteering, people are helping to advance science and perhaps lead to the discovery of new therapeutics and medicines. It’s important that we continue to recruit volunteers and we are delighted that Jack and Sarah are helping us raise awareness of the study”, said Jackie Dolan, Programme Manager, Genomics Medicine Ireland.

The GenoFit Research Study is open to anyone aged 18 and older from the broader UCD Belfield campus community of approximately 30,000 people. Residents from the local community who visit the Belfield campus for various activities (sports and recreational) are also eligible to participate in the study.

Volunteers give approximately one hour of their time to the study during which they provide a blood sample, take a short fitness test and fill out a lifestyle questionnaire. Participants are given the full results of their mini-health check, including a DEXA scan which evaluates bone and muscle health.

For more information or to book an appointment, eligible volunteers should contact: GenoFit Research Study Clinic, UCD Institute for Sport and Health, t: +353 (0)87 113 2875 or visit www.genofit.ie.