GTEx: Donors

National Human Genome Research Institute

National Institutes of Health
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

The Genotype-Tissue Expression Project (GTEx)


Thank you for your interest in the GTEx project. The generosity of donors and donor families make this project possible. The goal of GTEX is to increase our understanding of how changes in genes contribute to common human diseases. This knowledge will improve health care for future generations.

GTEx will create information that will be useful to many researchers, studying many different diseases. The gift of your tissue or your loved one's tissue may lead to research which could help improve treatment for many people in the future.

There are two types of donor groups that participate in the GTEx project: 1) organ and tissue donors, and 2) surgical donors.

GTEx Findings

It has been said that someone has "good genes" when they are particularly healthy, but what does that mean?  How does understanding of genetics translate into better health?  NIH designed the Genotype Tissue Expression (GTEx) project to start to answer this question. The project is looking at the differences in people's genes.

Genes are made up of DNA and DNA is made up of different pieces too. One of GTEx's goals is to identify the pieces of DNA that control how genes behave. These pieces of DNA are called expression quantitative trait loci or eQTLs. These eQTLs control the behavior of genes like a thermostat regulates the temperature of a home. GTEx studies found that the number of eQTLs varies from person to person and from tissue to tissue. Researchers also discovered eQTLs act in different ways. Some eQTLs may affect a set of genes in one tissue, while other eQTLs affect genes in many tissues.

The GTEx consortium has also built an eQTL web-browser ( to help visualize and discover new relationships between genes and the DNA that affects them. This website provides a resource for the many researchers who are exploring the human genome. Understanding how the eQTLs change gene behavior in different tissues can help us understand how diseases develop in people. This knowledge, in turn, may help us develop new therapies and treatments, improving our health overall.

Top of page

Last Updated: January 7, 2016