Roadmap for a precision-medicine initiative in the Nordic region

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The Nordic region, comprising primarily Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, has many of the necessary characteristics for being at the forefront of genome-based precision medicine. These include egalitarian and universal healthcare, expertly curated patient and population registries, biobanks, large population-based prospective cohorts linked to registries and biobanks, and a widely embraced sense of social responsibility that motivates public engagement in biomedical research. However, genome-based precision medicine can be achieved only through coordinated action involving all actors in the healthcare sector. Now is an opportune time to organize scientists in the Nordic region, together with other stakeholders including patient representatives, governments, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions and funding agencies, to initiate a Nordic Precision Medicine Initiative. We present a roadmap for how this organization can be created. The Initiative should facilitate research, clinical trials and knowledge transfer to meet regional and global health challenges.

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Fig. 1: The Nordic countries, a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North and Norwegian Seas.


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We thank the Banbury Center at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory for organizing and hosting the meeting ‘Studying the Genomic Variation that Underlies Health and Disease: The Unique Contribution of the Nordic Health Systems’ at the Banbury Center, 16–19 February, 2016. We are grateful to C. E. Jaquish, G. Tybring and D. Høybråten for helpful discussions. We acknowledge funding from the Norwegian Research Council (223273 to O.A.A.) and NordForsk (to P.W.F.). Work related to this paper conducted by P.W.F. was supported by the Swedish Research Council and ERC-2015-CoG_NASCENT_681742. P.R.N. was supported by grants from the European Research Council (AdG 293574), the Research Council of Norway (240413), Helse Vest (PERSON-MED-DIA), Bergen Research Foundation and Stiftelsen Kristian Gerhard Jebsen (Center for Diabetes Research). A.D.B. was supported by a grant from the Novo Nordisk Fonden.

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P.R.N., P.W.F., A.D.B., A.P., C.S. and K.S. wrote the manuscript, which was edited by O.A.A., S.B., J.D., T.E., N.F., L.G., H.H., D.M.H., E.H., K.H., J.K., G.P.K., M.M., A.M., P.B.M., J.P., A.P., W.R., H.S., N.O.S., P.F.S., U.T., M.V., E.V. and T.W.; P.R.N., O.A.A., S.B., A.D.B., J.D., T.E., P.W.F., N.F., L.G., H.H., D.M.H., E.H., K.H., A.J., J.K., G.P.K., M.M., A.M., P.B.M., J.P., A.P., W.R., H.S., N.O.S., P.F.S., U.T., M.V., E.V., T.W., C.S. and K.S. conceived the project.

Correspondence to Pål Rasmus Njølstad.

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Competing interests

H.S., U.T. and K.S. are employed by deCODE Genetics/Amgen, Inc. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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