Abstract The past decade has seen major investment in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). Among the many goals of GWAS, a major one is to identify and motivate research on novel genes involved in complex human disease. To assess whether this goal is being met, we quantified the effect of GWAS on the overall distribution of biomedical research publications and on the subsequent publication history of genes newly associated with complex disease. We found that the historical skew of publications toward genes involved in Mendelian disease has not changed since the advent of GWAS. Genes newly implicated by GWAS in complex disease do experience additional publications compared to control genes, and they are more likely to become exceptionally studied. But the magnitude of both effects has declined over the past decade. Our results suggest that reforms to encourage follow-up studies may be needed for GWAS to most successfully guide biomedical research toward the molecular mechanisms underlying complex human disease.
Date made available2018

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