Genetic architecture of common multifactorial diseases

Ciba Found Symp. 1996;197:211-29; discussion 229-32. doi: 10.1002/9780470514887.ch12.


The purpose of this paper is to foster a dialogue among those interested in the genetic analysis of common chronic diseases. The need for an alternative to the Cartesian-Mendelian research strategy is discussed. A biological model that considers an individual's health to be an emergent property of a complex adaptive system is presented. A review of the contribution of the gene coding for apolipoprotein E to the genetic architecture of measures of lipid metabolism documents that an individual's coronary artery health has all the features expected of a complex adaptive system. Suggestions for enhancing our ability to use genetic information to predict onset, progression and severity of disease are offered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Coronary Disease / genetics*
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Models, Genetic*
  • Research


  • Apolipoproteins E