The new board comprises: Professor Markus Löffler (University of Leipzig), Professor Tobias Pischon (Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association), Martin Schmidt (German Cancer Research Center in the Helmholtz Association) and Professor Henry Völzke (University of Greifswald). The term of office of the newly established honorary board of directors is three years.
Annette Peters has been a scientific NAKO board member since 2015. Within the NAKO she is responsible for biosamples (storage, analyses, concepts, genetics/omics) as well as their implementation and geodata. "The colleagues Berger and Ahrens have rendered outstanding services to the NAKO Study through their commitment and expertise," said the internationally recognized researcher about her predecessor and Professor Wolfgang Ahrens, who is also leaving the Executive Board. "As chairman, Professor Berger has initiated important innovations, such as the introduction of expert groups, endpoint validation and ‘data freeze’. He has thus set the course for the study."
Extensive collection of biosamples
The aim of the nationwide project is to research, prevent and treat major widespread diseases such as diabetes, cancer and chronic lung diseases. For this purpose, around 28 million biosamples from 200,000 participants will be collected nationwide. In order to preserve this unique and valuable collection, a central biosample storage facility (known as the Biorepository) was specially designed, which Helmholtz Zentrum München operates for the NAKO. The new building will be officially opened in October.
"The course has been set and with currently more than 170,000 participants, the NAKO Health Study is on the right track," said Annette Peters. "Now the task will be to gain comprehensive insights from this unique collection which will help us to make progress in the fight against the major common diseases – that is our motivation."
The NAKO Health Study
Since 2014, in the NAKO Health Study, men and women aged between 20 and 69, randomly drawn from the registration lists, have been medically examined at 18 study centers nationwide and questioned about their living conditions. The aim is to investigate chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, rheumatism, infections and depression in more detail in order to improve prevention, early detection and treatment of these diseases, which are widespread in the population. The multicenter project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the participating states (Länder) and the Helmholtz Association. As of the end of August, more than 175,000 people (including 24,500 in the additional one-hour MRI whole-body examination) had taken part in the NAKO Study.