The field of genomics has entered a new era in which the ability to identify genetic variants that impact complex human traits and disease in an unbiased fashion using genome-wide approaches is widely accessible. To date, the workhorse of these efforts has been the genome-wide association study (GWAS), which has quickly moved from novel to routine, and has provided key insights into aspects of the underlying allelic architecture of complex traits. The main lesson learned from the early GWAS efforts is that though many disease-associated variants are often discovered, most have only a minor effect on disease, and in total explain only a small amount of the apparent heritability. Here we provide a brief overview of the genetic variation classes that may harbor the heritability missing from GWAS, and touch on approaches that will be leveraged in the coming years as genomics-and by extension medicine-becomes increasingly personalized.
© 2011 Thieme Medical Publishers, Inc.