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Building international efforts on population and patient cohorts

Building on existing cohorts and in close alliance with relevant research infrastructures, proposals should establish a strategy for the development of the next generation of integrated cohorts, including:

  1. Map the cohort landscape in Europe and large international initiatives. The mapping should include, for instance meta-data on purpose, coverage and measurements and any other relevant information.
  2. Identify best strategies for cohorts' integration, taking into account relevant ethical issues.
  3. Promote the harmonisation of past and future data collection and provide recommendations on standards to improve future sample and data collection.
  4. Foster the inclusion of data emerging from new technologies (e.g. ICT, social platforms), new type of data (e.g. lifestyle, geographical, genetic, eHealth records) and exposure, including to new and emerging products (e.g. novel tobacco products, e-cigarettes, waterpipes).
  5. Promote best practises to optimise access to existing and future cohorts.
  6. Contribute to define an international strategic agenda for better coordination of cohorts globally.

The Commission considers that a proposal requesting an EU contribution between EUR 1 to 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amount.

Cohorts are invaluable resources to obtain detailed description of individual biological variations in connection with a variety of environmental, pathogenic, occupational, societal, and lifestyle determinants that influence the onset and evolution of diseases. Europe currently has some of the most valuable population and patient cohorts, including well annotated clinical trial cohorts. Several large cohorts have also been developed in various parts of the world. Despite recent efforts to network cohorts, the level of integration need to be escalated in order to optimise the exploitation of these resources, essential to underpin and facilitate the development of stratified and personalised medicine.

Coordination of large cohorts at EU and global level would:

  • Maximise the use of cohorts in defining/improving clinical practice and public health policy and bringing innovations to patients.
  • Accelerate the development of personalised medicine.
  • Improve the understanding of the complex interactions of environmental, social, occupational and lifestyle determinants of health.