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Major research in the Northern Netherlands into risk factors for coronavirus

30 March 2020

This week, large-scale research into the risk factors for the coronavirus COVID-19 is being started in the Northern Netherlands. To this end, around 135,000 Northern residents will receive a weekly questionnaire in the coming period. Their answers will be linked to data from the Lifelines biobank to identify both hereditary and environmental factors that partially determine whether someone may fall seriously ill due to the coronavirus or simply develop mild symptoms.

Genetically determined?

The weekly questionnaire will be sent to participants of the Lifelines and NEXT research programmes. Their answers will be combined with previously gathered data, including genetic information. Head researcher Lude Franke, Professor of Genetics, explains: "With this research, we want to see whether there are differences between the DNA of people who have fallen seriously ill due to the coronavirus and people who have experienced mild symptoms."

Influence on mental health

Furthermore, the extent to which the coronavirus influences Northern residents' wellbeing will also be researched in this study. Is it making people feel gloomy or anxious? How is this affecting their dietary behaviour and health? How has this influenced their daily lives, including work? And what effects will this have in the longer term?

Mapping the spread

Thanks to this research, the spreading of the coronavirus across the three Northern provinces over the next few months will be mapped. This knowledge may help to more accurately predict what may happen in cases of infectious diseases or viruses in the future.

Northern Netherlands joins forces

The Lifelines coronavirus study is a joint initiative of the University Medical Center Groningen, the University of Groningen, the Aletta Jacobs School of Public Health and the Lifelines biobank. It was partly made possible by the University of the North, a collective of Northern knowledge institutions. Lifelines director Bert-Jan Souman: "It is extraordinary to see what we have organized together at such short notice. We are joining forces to broaden our knowledge on the coronavirus and to contribute to society through scientific research."

Contributions by Lifelines participants

Only participants of the Lifelines and Lifelines NEXT research programmes are invited to contribute to this study. They will receive an email invitation to this end. More information can be found at

Last modified:27 July 2021 10.32 a.m.
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