Epidemiology for health (EpiHealth) – A bold beginning
The country of Sweden has possibly the longest history of population-based data collection in the world. Therefore it should come as no surprise to see that Sweden is the birthplace of an ambitious project called "Epidemiology for health" (Epihealth for short).
As its name suggests, Epihealth aims to improve understanding and etiology of both chronic and infectious disease processes via state-of-the-art epidemiologic research. Two of the oldest universities in Sweden, Uppsala and Lund, have agreed to join forces to achieve this aim, with a steering committee of 11 members from both Lund and Uppsala driving the project forwards.
Epidemiology, however, is not just a tool used by other disciplines but is also a science in its own right; therefore Epihealth does not intend to be just another data collection agency. Epihealth will also provide a base to develop and teach the very latest in epidemiologic methodologies and techniques to advance the discipline further.
With this in mind, there are three major focus areas for Epihealth:
1) Basic Science epidemiology: To research the etiology of chronic and infectious diseases via further development of biomarkers and gene-level interactions.
2) Applied and Clinical Epidemiology: To develop monitoring systems for cost-effectiveness of healthcare delivery and prevention programmes.
3) Epidemiologic Infrastructure: The research and development of state-of-the-art epidemiological infrastructures (for example, registries, biobanks and technology platforms).
These will build upon already existing national epidemiologic infrastructures, such as national health quality registers, population-based cohorts and biobanks. Epihealth will also develop new national and international research data registers and biobanks creating and "easy access" infrastructure for research both in Sweden and abroad.
Epihealth is not just a pipedream; funding for the next five years, to the tune of 52 million SEK was granted from The Swedish Research Council ("Vetenskapsrådet") in late 2009, thanks mostly to the efforts of the Epihealth "ad hoc" committee leader Prof Peter Nilsson and his team. Work to turn the Epihealth concept into reality has started with the sourcing of a suitable infrastructure for Epihealth in Southern Sweden, creating a fully functional website (www.med.lu.se/epihealth ) and establishing a committee to formally run Epihealth.
Peter M Nilsson, MD, PhD, Professor of Clinical Cardiovascular Research Department of Clinical Sciences, Lund University, Skåne University Hospital S-205 02 Malmö, SWEDEN
Phone: +46-40-33 24 15, Fax: +46-40-92 32 72, e-mail: Peter.Nilsson@med.lu.se