Contact details: S. (Saakje) Mulder
Bloemsingel , 9700 RB, Groningen

LifeLines is one of the world’s largest population-based cohort studies and biobanks, following 167,729 participants in a family design over a minimal period of 30 years. LifeLines is a research resource for data on complex interactions between environmental, phenotypic and genomic factors in the development of chronic diseases. Data collection includes environmental exposures, (epi)genetics, nutritional, psychological and social factors, as well as health care use to cover societal impact. It forms a pivotal base for important breakthroughs in the screening, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of (chronic) diseases as well as in the understanding of the etiology of disease. The aim is to facilitate research in the field of Healthy Ageing, ultimately resulting in an increase in healthy life years.

The LifeLines population
Between 2006 and 2013, inhabitants of the northern part of the Netherlands and their families were invited to participate, thereby contributing to a multigenerational design. Children were included from 6 months of age. The eldest participant was 93 years at baseline. Currently, follow-up data collection by means of questionnaires and visits is ongoing.
Data collection
Every five years, participants visit one of the LifeLines research sites for an extensive physical examination. During this visit, biomaterials are also collected. In addition to the visits to our research sites, participants are invited to complete a questionnaire every 1.5 years. To enrich the LifeLines data collection, links are being established with medical registries and environmental data, such as air pollution and distance from home to grocery shops.
Opportunities for researchers
To understand why some people grow old in a healthy manner, while others experience severe diseases much earlier in life, we have to study large population-based groups. The large number of families in the LifeLines cohort and the broad range of data collected enable researchers to study how the interaction between genetic background, lifestyle and environmental factors influences the development of chronic diseases. Through this we gain insight into the risk factors that are associated with the onset and course of chronic diseases, and how these risks are different per person. With LifeLines, researchers can conduct innovative research on these questions. All data, samples and expertise are available to scientific researchers worldwide.
Innovation and expertise
LifeLines has developed unique expertise on many aspects of biobanking. The large data and biomaterial collection challenges the existing methodology and capacity. For the entire process of data and biomaterial collection, storage, and release, LifeLines applies high quality standards. Privacy, security and traceability are ensured in all aspects. In 2014, we received our ISO 9000 certificate. Samples are analyzed on the day of collection, and subsequently stored in a completely automated sample storage with a capacity of over 8 million aliquots at -80 °C. A dedicated high-quality ITsystem for data collection, storage and data release was put in place to maximally protect the privacy of the participants, link different data sources and make the data available for researchers. All ‘big’ data is available on a High Perfomance Computing environment.
As a center of expertise in biobanking, the LifeLines Cohort Study takes part in a number of (inter)national research and biobank collaborations and is part of the Dutch national infrastructure on biobanks (BBMRI-NL). LifeLines has already made a considerable scientific contribution. In total, over 250 proposals have been approved. Approximately 65 papers on LifeLines data have been published in scientific journals to date. An updated list of references is available on our website (
LifeLines has become an invaluable resource for data, samples and expertise, and is available to the international scientific community.

Connection to strategic developments
Health and Food