A Scottish genetics research project is looking for people with at least two grandparents who were born in Orkney or Shetland.

Entitled Viking II, to mark the islands’ Norse heritage, the University of Edinburgh project will require participants to complete an online questionnaire about their health and lifestyle as well as providing a saliva sample.

It hopes to use the information to uncover additional clues about the causes of conditions such as diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer, and ultimately to discover new treatments.

The team is focusing on Scotland’s historically remote northern isles because it believes people there have a “unique genetic identity” that can provide crucial insights into the role genes play in health.

And the study is not only seeking people who currently live in Orkney or Shetland. It is also keen to hear from the considerable numbers of descendants living in areas such as Chicago, Dunedin (New Zealand) and Saskatchewan (Canada).

It is hoped that around 4,000 people will be invited to take part in the study, which is backed by the Medical Research Council.

Anyone wishing to sign up can register their interest by visiting the study website at www.ed.ac.uk/viking