The GenOMICC Study (Genetics of Mortality in Critical Care)

Our genes (or DNA) determine how vulnerable we are to sepsis and other forms of critical illness. We aim to discover specific genes that control the processes that lead to life-threatening illness. We'll do this by obtaining a single DNA sample from criticaly-ill patients with a range of carefully-selected syndromes (see the entry criteria here).

Distributed, open-source critical care research

GenOMICC is an open-source research study that aims to engage and unite clinicians and scientists form all over the world to understand the genetic factors that change outcome in critical illness. Achieving this will require cooperation at a grand scale for a prolonged period. By sharing the "source" documents of the study, without restriction, we hope to foster a collegiate spirit that will ultimately enable important progress in critical care medicine worldwide.

Genetic effects will differ among the many different causes of sepsis, and different ethnic groups. This requires global collaboration among critical care doctors, sharing of data between researchers, and an innovative approach to funding.

Establishing GenOMICC in your region

If you want to get involved in GenOMICC, we woudl suggest the following options:

  • we will be delighted to collaborate; or
  • we can help you set up your own study using our protocol, documentation and REDCap data collection tools as a starting point; or,
  • you can copy and adapt the various study documents available on this website to run your own independent GenOMICC study.

We will support investigators in new regions to establish and lead local research studies using the tools that we have created. Ultimately our motivation is to use GenOMICC to lay the foundations of effective global collaboration in critical care research, with local leadership of the research programme.

About GenOMICC

If you are a patient or relative please see our patient and relative information section.

At present, GenOMICC is recruiting in the United Kingdom. Click here to find out about establishing recruitment in your centre.

If you would like to read more about this study and its design you can read our rationale which goes into further detail.


The GenOMICC study is now supported by the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust (FEAT), the Wellcome Trust and the Intensive Care Society.

Death from sepsis is strongly affected by genetics

Susceptibility to infection is very strongly genetically determined. If you get a cold there's a good chance your children or parents will catch it from you, while your friends are much less likely, even if you spend the same amount of time with them.

Once a patient has sepsis, a complex cascade of immune signals leads to failure of critical organ systems and death. These events are not specific to a particular type of infection - they can happen to any patient with a severe infection. Although we know that susceptibility to a particular bug, such as the influenza virus, or a bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, is genetic, it is harder to tell if there are specific genes that alter a patient's chance of survival once they are already desperately sick with sepsis. But we do know that the immune system plays a key role in causing organ failure in sepsis, and in other forms of critical illness. Genetic differences have a very strong impact on immune function.

How to look for answers

There are millions of DNA sequence differences between any pair of humans. Any of these could be important in determining the outcome in sepsis. Finding the ones that matter requires us to look at DNA from huge numbers of patients. We need to look at thousands of people in order to find genetic associations with sepsis. Luckily, the people we need to study are rare, but this means we need to recruit over a large area, and for a long time, in order to acquire enough DNA samples to answer these questions.

More information about site setup

Click here to find out about establishing recruitment in your centre.

You can read the most up-to-date version of the protocol online here, or download the approved version in different regions here.

Scotland - [Download GenOMICC protocol version 1.06](../protocol_docs/pdfs/protocol_v1.06.pdf) England and Wales - [Download GenOMICC protocol version 1.07](../protocol_docs/pdfs/protocol_v1.07.pdf)


We are very grateful to receive funding from the Fiona Elizabeth Agnew Trust (FEAT), the Wellcome Trust, and the UK Intensive Care Society in support of the GenOMICC study.

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