GHGA Lecture Series: Annette Peters (virtual)

Professor Annette Peters from the Institute of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Center Munich presented "The German National Cohort - Overall study design and OMICS concept" at the GHGA lecture series ("Advances in Data-Driven Biomedicine") on June 20, 2022.

Watch this lecture here.


The German National Cohort (NAKO) is a multidisciplinary cohort study that aims to investigate the causes of major chronic diseases such as cancer, respiratory, infectious and cardiovascular diseases, identify risk factors and improve early detection and prevention of disease. Between 2014 and 2019, 205,217 persons, aged 20–69, randomly drawn from the general population, were examined in 18 study centres across Germany. The study areas cover urban, strongly industrialised and rural regions. This baseline assessment included a wide range of medical examinations, an extensive interview and self-completion questionnaires and the collection of various biomaterials. Additionally, whole-body MRI measurements were performed in 30,861 participants at 5 of the 18 study centres. Participants are being followed for incident diseases via questionnaires and disease registries. Furthermore, all study participants are being invited for re-examination at the study centres. This follow-up study started in October 2018 and is expected to be completed by April 2023. 

During the examinations, various biosamples (serum, plasma, buffy coat, RNA, urine, saliva, stool, nasal swaps) are collected from the participants. Until December 2021, a total of 22 Mio. quality assured aliquots were collected. The majority of this invaluable collection is stored in the NAKO central biorepository, located at the Helmholtz Zentrum München. To efficiently use these high quality biosamples, a group of NAKO scientists with special expertise has created a concept to generate and utilise OMICS data in the NAKO. This concept describes a stepwise approach for usage of state-of-the-art OMICS techniques with the final goal of a comprehensive multi-OMICS approach within the NAKO. In combination with the broad phenotyping including modern imaging and health record linkage, the NAKO multi-OMICs data will become a pivotal resource for health research on a national and international level. Along with an overview of the NAKO study design, this concept will be presented in detail during the talk. 


Prof. Dr. Annette Peters directs the Institute of Epidemiology at the Helmholtz Zentrum München – German Research Center for Environmental Health and is full Professor of Epidemiology at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität München, Germany. She studied biology and mathematics in Germany and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA. She pioneered work identifying the link between ambient particulate matter and cardiovascular disease. Today, she heads the research platform KORA, which was initiated in the mid-eighties in Augsburg, Germany and conducts population-based surveys and subsequent follow-up studies in the fields of epidemiology, health economics, and health care research.

Annette is also a principal investigator of the German National Cohort (NAKO Gesundheitsstudie), the largest health study in Germany, and since October 2018, she chairs the NAKO board of directors. Since 2014, NAKO prospectively investigates 205,000 men and women, aged 20 to 69. As PI, Annette is responsible for the setup and operation of the NAKO central biorepository, located at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, in which the invaluable collection of NAKO biosamples are kept. In Addition, Annette is speaker of the NAKO expert groups on OMICs analyses. 

Annette’s research interests are age-related and chronic diseases. Specifically, she strives to improve the understanding of disease development by integrating lifestyle and environmental factors, molecular and imaging markers to assess their relative impact on cardiometabolic diseases. In 2019, she received the prestigious John Goldsmith Award for her achievements in the field of environmental epidemiology.