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Forum on cohort studies held in Nanjing

By Zhou Wenting | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-09-18 17:57

Forum on cohort studies is held in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, Sept 16, 2023. [Photo/chinadaily.com.cn]

Scholars in the field of cohort study from China, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Singapore gathered at the 2023 Cohort Study and Translational Precision Medicine Forum in Nanjing city, Jiangsu province, on Sept 16.

More than 30 domestic scholars and academicians leading cohort study programs in the country also participated in the forum held by Nanjing Medical University, US-based DNA sequencing and array technologies company Illumina, and Nature Research Custom Media to discuss the development path of cohort studies in China.

A cohort study is a type of longitudinal study in which a group of individuals, often sharing a common characteristic or experiences, are followed over an extended period of time. Researchers then study and track outcomes, typically related to specific exposures or interventions.

Important cohort studies will help generate new ideas and scientific basis for formulating disease prevention and control countermeasures in line with China's national conditions to tackle public health problems, said experts.

The studies will also provide a Chinese sample for global cohort research, they added.

China was one of the first countries to initiate precision medicine and cohort studies, and governments at different levels have continued to invest in the development of cohort studies and precision medicine, including the promotion of multi-million large-scale cohort studies focusing on the health of natural populations as well as the ones of specific groups with major diseases, over the past years.

Some major cohort study projects in the country, such as the China Kadoorie Biobank and the Jiangsu Birth Cohort Study, have made significant progress. The China Kadoorie Biobank is a long-term collaboration between the UK and China that aims to generate reliable data regarding the lifestyle, environmental and genetic determinants of a wide range of common diseases that can inform disease prevention, risk prediction and treatment worldwide.

Lin Dongxin, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and a professor from the Cancer Hospital of the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, said that cohort studies are very important in understanding the causes of diseases unique to China and the development of prevention and treatment means.

"For example, roughly half of all esophageal cancer patients in the world are from China, and our technology of early screening and diagnosis of esophageal cancer translated from scientific research results is ranked top in the world," Lin said.

"The establishment of a basic health database for the Chinese population is of great significance to the improvement of national health and even to the promotion of global research regarding the risk factors of chronic diseases and global etiology."

Shi Xiaoming, deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the leading researcher of the Healthy Aging and Biomarkers Cohort Study in China, said that China's aging population and the fact that many are suffering from multiple chronic diseases have brought about several challenges to society and public services.

"Research on the health problems of the aging population requires in-depth exploration of the genetic mechanisms, and we hope to provide scientific evidence for the advancement of China's response to healthy aging through the analysis and study of data from nationally representative cohorts and key regions," he said.

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