Summer 2018

For the generations

Look for Logan Spector and colleagues in the Driven to Discover Research Facility at the Minnesota State Fair—their top recruitment site for the 10,000 Families Study.
Jim Bovin

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, cancer—Minnesota’s leading cause of death—will affect half of us directly and the rest of us through people we know and love.

The U’s ambitious 10,000 Families Study aims to improve those statistics by investigating how genetics and lifestyle contribute to health and disease, including cancer. The goal: follow 10,000 Minnesota families—children, their parents, siblings, and grandparents—and identify patterns in those who live long, healthy lives and those who aren’t so healthy.

“Because we’re collecting genetic information from families, we’re going to be able to look at intergenerational transmission of disease risk,” says lead investigator Logan Spector, a professor of pediatrics in the Medical School and Masonic Cancer Center member. “Between generations, do some families pass on more mutations than others? How do conditions during pregnancy affect a person’s later health, both as a child and as an adult?”

If it seems like a massive and complicated undertaking, it is. And as the study begins to scale up, an influx of research funding from Minnesota Masonic Charities is particularly well-timed. 

“We’re especially grateful for the Masons’ support because they see the value in doing these long-term projects,” Spector says. “We’re doing this for the generations.”