National cohort feasibility studies
Heiko Becher, Heiko Zimmermann, Ema Kuhrs, Heribert Ramroth, Gabriele Stieglbauer
External collaborators: see www.nationale-kohorte.de
Funding period: 2011-2013
A network of German research institutes from the Helmholtz Association, the Leibniz Association, various universities and research departments has taken the initiative for the creation of a large-scale, nationwide, long-term population study with the aim of
- explaining the causes of widespread diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, and infectious diseases,
- identifying risk factors,
- highlighting effective forms of prevention, and
- identifying options for the early detection of diseases.
In this cohort study, 200,000 people aged between 20 and 69 from across Germany will be medically examined and questioned on their living habits (e.g. physical activity, smoking, diet, occupation etc.). In addition, all participants in the study will supply blood samples which will be stored in a central biobank for later research projects. After five years, all participants will again be invited to complete a second questionnaire and have themselves examined at their local study center. In the course of their observation over a period of 10–20 years, some of the participants are bound to develop diseases, which we will then be able to correlate with the data collected. The study thus offers unique potential for a wide range of scientific investigations. Researchers will therefore be able to derive valuable findings on how
• genetic factors,
• environmental conditions,
• social milieu, and
interact in the development of disease. These findings, it is hoped, will greatly facilitate the development of more effective prevention and treatment strategies for the most widespread diseases.
The National Cohort will also lead to new approaches to the prevention of chronic diseases, and will help bring about improvements in German healthcare in general.
In the present stage (2011-2013), feasibility studies are being performed to investigate specific aspects of the forthcoming study. The Institute of Public Health at the University clinic Heidelberg is involved in the following feasibility studies
- testing the basic program (2011-2013)
- P1: evaluation and testing of methods to recruit migrants (2011-2012)
- P13: dental health (2011-2012)
- PP9: response in migrants (2012-2013)
For further details see www.nationale-kohorte.de