UK Children's Diabetes Research

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UK GRID: Genetic Resource Investigating Diabetes

UK GRID logo

What is the UK GRID?

The UK GRID Project was set up to collect blood samples from very large numbers of patients with type 1 diabetes, and in some cases, their family members, in order to conduct large-scale studies into the genetics of type 1 diabetes. It is a joint project between the University of Cambridge departments of Paediatrics (Professor David Dunger) and Medical Genetics in the Cambridge Institute for Medical Research (Professor John Todd) and is funded by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (International link, UK link) and Wellcome Trust.

For the purposes of the study, we have divided the United Kingdom into fifteen distinct regions. Each region has a "Lead Clinician(s)", who helps recruit and coordinate the other centres in their area. These regional structures will also be used in the planning of the Children's Diabetes Register.

GRID encompasses two main studies: a collection of samples from 8,000 people, mostly children, with type 1 diabetes (the National DNA Collection); and 1,500 families, with a child with type 1 diabetes and followed for some time during the study for factors that might allow us to predict the possible future development of diabetic complications (the Oxford Regional Prospective Study, ORPS and the Nephropathy Family Study, NFS). The National DNA Collection is described on this page, while ORPS and NFS are described on a companion page.

UK GRID regions

Map showing regions.

National DNA Collection - The Genetics of Type 1 Diabetes

Aims of the study

Increasing numbers of children developing diabetes in the community may have something to do with our changing environment in relation to diet and infection, but the risk is also dependent on the genes, that are inherited through the family. Genes are part of the code that is present in all cells of the body which determine things such as the colour of eyes, body shape and how we respond to infection and other changes in the environment. Understanding the genes that predispose to diabetes will help us understand how diabetes develops and ultimately lead to strategies for the prevention and treatment of the disease in the future.

We aim to collect 8,000 blood samples from people aged under 18 with type 1 diabetes diagnosed when they were 16 or under. The blood samples will be "transformed" a process which provides an unlimited supply of DNA for analysis and means we won't have to ask most people for more blood samples in the future.

The DNA samples will be used to compare the difference in the genes of children with diabetes and those without the disease to identify which genes make people vulnerable developing type 1 diabetes. The GRID cases are matched to 8,000 control samples from the National Child Development Study (NCDS), also known as the British 1958 Birth Cohort. The NCDS is a DNA sample collection of a cohort first recruited in 1958, as every child born in one week in March that year in England, Scotland and Wales, and followed ever since.


Sample collection has now been underway for three years and the total currently stands at over 6,000. The team at Professor Todd's lab is now preparing for the first major analysis, using 2,000 of these cases and 2,000 controls.

A collection of this size in such a short time period is a remarkable achievement! We would like to say a big thank you to all the volunteers who have made this possible by donating their samples in the clinics.

Access to data and samples

While the collection has been underway, genotyping has already begun. Highlights from studies performed by John Todd's group which include the national collection, are the discovery of a new T1D susceptibility gene, CTLA4, and the replication of another finding on the LYP/PTPN22 gene:

It is likely that data generated in the course of human genetic studies will soon be distributed through our funders, and under their ethical oversight. Meanwhile data for projects performed by John Todd's group, is available to fellow researchers on completion of a Data Access Agreement, a legal document that safeguards the confidentiality of the data.

It is likely that access to the DNA samples collected will also fall under the funders' ethical oversight, but meanwhile these are available, again from John Todd's group, to fellow researchers on a collaborative basis on completion of a Material Transfer Agreement - a model document is available online.

Further information

If you would like further information about the project, you can download example information sheets - these all contain gaps for local clinic, consultant details:

We also have example consent forms available:


If you have any queries, please contact:

	JDRF/WT Clinical Resource Office
	University of Cambridge Department of Paediatrics
	Box 116, Addenbrooke's Hospital
	Hills Road
	CB2 2QQ


UK Children's Diabetes Research file:
Written by: Neil Walker
Last modified: 08/05/2019