Maximizing human developmental

University Medical Center Groningen

University Medical Center Groningen

Department of Genetics

Hanzeplein 1
9713 Groningen
The Netherlands


Project Leader

Prof. Dr. Morris Swertz

Principal Investigator

Phone number: +31 503 617 100

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Project Staff

Eleanor Hyde

Project Manager

Phone number: +31 625 648 830

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Institute presentation

The Academisch Ziekenhuis Groningen (UMCG) is one of the largest academic hospitals in the Netherlands, with a three-prong mission: delivery of highly specialized medical treatment and cutting-edge university health care; conduct, support, and supervision of biomedical research to advance knowledge of human health and illness; and provision of advanced (bachelor- and master-level) education and post-graduate training in the fields of Medicine, Dentistry and Human Movement Sciences. It has a staff of 10,000 people and is part of the University of Groningen (top 100 in Shanghai ARWU, Times Higher Education, Thompson ESI, and the QS World University rankings).

Since 2006 UMCG has implemented the overarching theme of “Healthy Ageing” in which the biology of ageing, life-course epidemiology and population cohort research are guiding themes across care, education and research. UMCG has a longstanding tradition of conducting large cohort studies, both clinical and population-based. GECKO Drenthe is the UMCG birth cohort, including almost 3,000 children born between April 2006 and April 2007 in the province of Drenthe. The GECKO Drenthe cohort is designed to closely monitor life-style factors and growth to explain the development of childhood obesity at very young age. It addresses the challenges of today’s obesogenic environment for children in relation to a genetic or epigenetic vulnerability for obesity.

The project will be conducted in three closely-linked groups: the Research Data and Biobanking team (RDB), the Department of Epidemiology (EPI) and the Genomics Coordination Center (GCC). The Research Data and Biobanking (RDB) team is directed by Professor Ronald Stolk and situated within the UMCG Office of the Dean of Research. This group oversees data-related research policy and infrastructure available for healthy aging research throughout the UMCG. It also coordinates the access of UMCG researchers to facilities of the university Center for Information Technology. The Genomics Coordination Center (GCC), based in the Department of Genetics, is an international bioinformatics and research IT core facility and big data stewardship hotel established between UMCG and the University of Groningen. GCC explores novel and powerful methods for efficient modelling, production and evolution of dynamic software infrastructures to rapidly generate flexible bioinformatics infrastructures. GCC also facilitates large-scale genetic studies, as well as biological software infrastructures for post-genomic research to manage, analyse and integrate large data sets on multiple molecular levels (open source MOLGENIS). RDB and GCC contribute significantly to the global Maelstrom research program, which provides solutions for the optimal use of scientific data from multiple sources, through cutting-edge harmonization and data analysis techniques. The unit Lifestyle Medicine in Obesity and Diabetes combines observational and interventional research to study the underlying mechanisms that explain the benefits of a healthy diet and physical activity, with a special focus on obesity and diabetes.