In a recent study published in the journal BMC Genomics, researchers from Chicago were able to identify new genetic variants in inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer risk. The research team determined that bioinformatic characterization of the colon provides a tissue-specific tool to improve understanding of biological differences in diseases between different ethnic groups. Genetic susceptibility is thought to play a role in common diseases, including those affecting the colon such as inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and colorectal cancer (CRC). Genome-wide association studies (GWAS), have identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) associated with IBD, including both ulcerative colitis (UC) and CRC. Expression quantitative trait loci (eQTL) mapping associates genome-wide SNPs with mRNA expression from the same individuals in a particular tissue to identify regulatory variation. Importantly, it has been shown that variants identified by GWAS as being reproducibly associated with complex traits are enriched for eQTL in various cell types. However, comprehensive genome-wide eQTL mapping has not previously been performed in the human colon, which is the relevant tissue for colonic diseases like IBD and CRC.