scientific Background AND OUTLINE

The exposome encompasses the life course exposures from lifestyle behaviours and from the environment, and receives growing attention in medical research with respect to its relationship with a variety of non-communicable diseases (NCD). Multidisciplinary and longitudinal research combining high quality individual-level data with environmental-level data is urgently needed to identify and better understand their complex relations with each other and with NCD risk across the life course.


In the Netherlands, high quality and longitudinal data at the individual as well as the environmental level exist. High quality cohorts across the Netherlands may provide longitudinal individual-level data on lifestyle behaviours and NCD outcomes. A great variety of environmental (geo) data is available, but these data are currently scattered and measured at varying spatial scales.



The aim of the Geoscience and hEalth Cohort COnsortium (GECCO) is to provide a sustainable platform for streamlined access to combined high quality environmental- and individual-level data from 25 renowned and on-going large-scale Dutch cohorts. This will enable researchers from multiple disciplines to address a wide variety of research questions on environmental determinants of lifestyle behaviours and NCD risk.



The stepwise approach to implement this facility is to:

  1. Gather, combine and complement existing geographic information system (GIS) data in a repository, building on initial efforts within the former EMGO Institute and the current Amsterdam University Medical Center;
  2. Enrich longstanding and renowned Dutch cohorts with these GIS data by secure and local linkages; and
  3. Provide researchers with environmental data and provide guidance through cohort data access procedures.

GECCO’s support towards mapping the exposome of over 630,000 respondents, spread out over all municipalities in the Netherlands, will provide huge statistical power and potential for enabling (longitudinal) studies on the nuanced interrelationships between the environment, lifestyle behaviours and NCD risk.



GECCO started in November 2018 and is financially supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw), and Amsterdam University Medical Center



More background information and technical details about the operationalisation of the exposures can be found in our dedicated publication.