School of Public Health

Large-scale Population Collections

Elliott, Jarvelin, Riboli, Vineis, Hansell

The Department has been assembling a number of large population collections that include the collection of biological samples for gene-association studies and/or metabonomic analyses (with Prof J Nicholson and Dr E  Holmes, Division of SORA) in relation to health.

Finnish birth cohort studies (Jarvelin, Elliott). We are the data centre for two birth cohorts from northern Finland. The birth cohorts were collected from the provinces of Oulu and Lapland. The Northern Finland Birth Cohort (NFBC)-1966 comprises 12,068 mothers and their 12,231 births and NFBC-1985/86 9,362 mothers with 9,479 births. Data collection was started in the antenatal period. Follow-up of the cohorts were performed at the ages 1, 14 and 31 years in NFBC-1966 and 1, 7, 8 and 16 years in NFBC-1985/86. Clinical examinations including blood samples (for biochemistry, DNA etc., stored long-term) were carried out at 31 years of age in NFBC-1966 and at 16 years of age in NFBC-1985/86.  These two cohorts provide unique sets of data with which to explore the fetal origins hypothesis, and gene-environment interactions in the evolution of e.g., metabolic and cardiovascular disease. The work is supported by NIH, EU, Wellcome Trust as well as a number of national Finnish sources of funding.

INTERMAP study (Elliott, Nicholson and Holmes (SORA)). We are the international data analysis and coordination centre for the INTERMAP study, working with Northwestern University Chicago (Prof J Stamler). INTERMAP is an epidemiological investigation of the association of macronutrients and other dietary factors with blood pressure, conducted among 4,680 men and women ages 40-59 in four countries (China, Japan, UK, USA). Data collection included four x 24-hr dietary recall, two x 24-hr urine collection (urinary aliquots stored long-term) and eight blood pressure measurements for each individual. The study has been supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the NIH since 1995 and has recently been awarded a further 5 years programme support.

EPIC study (Riboli/Vineis). EPIC is a multicentre prospective study on diet and cancer.  Prof Elio Riboli is the Principal Investigator and Coordinator of the EPIC study and Prof P Vineis is the PI of the Torino branch. EPIC is based on 520,000 healthy volunteers recruited in 1993-1998 in 10 European countries. Data collection included blood samples, self-administered dietary and lifestyle questionnaires, a 24-hour recall in 10% of the subjects and anthropometric measurements. Follow-up is based on cancer registries and other sources. Within EPIC, P Vineis is responsible for the working groups on lung cancer and lymphomas. He is currently designing and analyzing nested studies on the application of different biomarkers (DNA adducts, SNPs, mutations in plasma DNA).

Airwave study (see research on non-ionising radiation).

Lolipop study We are also collaborating with Prof J Kooner and Prof J Scott (National Heart and Lung Institute) and others on a large cohort study of South Asian and European men and women, which is being assembled in west London. Data collection includes long-term storage of blood samples for biochemical and genetic analysis.


UK COSMOS study - International cohort study of mobile phone use and health (Elliott, Toledano). COSMOS is an international cohort study into the possible health effects of long-term mobile phone use. Mobile phones have been in widespread use for a relatively short period of time. The COSMOS study aims to carry out long term health monitoring of a large group of people so that we can identify if there are any health issues linked to long term mobile phone use. This study has been identified as a priority by research agencies worldwide, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA). The UK cohort will follow the health of approximately 90-100,000 mobile phone users (18+ years of age) for 20 to 30 years. The international cohort will follow the health of approximately 250,000 mobile phone users across 5 European countries: UK, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands. The study in the UK is funded by the MTHR, an independent programme of research into mobile phones and health that is jointly supported by the Department of Health and industry. More information about the study can be found at:


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