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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Acknowledgements

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.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Center for Diabetes Research, Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

    • Pål Rasmus Njølstad
    •  & Marc Vaudel
  2. Department of Pediatrics, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway

    • Pål Rasmus Njølstad
  3. Medical and Population Genetics Program, Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Pål Rasmus Njølstad
    •  & Aarno Palotie
  4. NORMENT Centre, Division of Mental Health and Addiction, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

    • Ole Andreas Andreassen
  5. Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

    • Ole Andreas Andreassen
  6. Disease Systems Biology, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Søren Brunak
  7. Department of Biomedicine, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

    • Anders D. Børglum
  8. iSEQ, Centre for Integrative Sequencing, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

    • Anders D. Børglum
  9. iPSYCH, Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research, Aarhus, Denmark

    • Anders D. Børglum
  10. Department of Laboratory Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

    • Joakim Dillner
  11. Karolinska University Laboratory, Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden

    • Joakim Dillner
  12. The Estonian Genome Center, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

    • Tõnu Esko
  13. Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    • Tõnu Esko
  14. Genetic and Molecular Epidemiology Unit, Lund University Diabetes Centre, Lund University, Malmö, Sweden

    • Paul W. Franks
    •  & Leif Groop
  15. Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Section for Medicine, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden

    • Paul W. Franks
  16. Department of Nutrition, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

    • Paul W. Franks
  17. Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

    • Paul W. Franks
  18. Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Los Angeles, CA, USA

    • Nelson Freimer
  19. UCLA Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, Los Angeles, CA, USA

    • Nelson Freimer
  20. FIMM Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

    • Leif Groop
    • , Jaakko Kaprio
    •  & Aarno Palotie
  21. School of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Hakon Heimer
  22. Department for Congenital Disorders, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • David M. Hougaard
    •  & Thomas Werge
  23. iPSYCH—The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Psychiatric Research, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • David M. Hougaard
  24. Department of Tumor Biology, Institute for Cancer Research, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

    • Eivind Hovig
  25. Institute of Cancer Genetics and Informatics, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

    • Eivind Hovig
  26. Department of Informatics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

    • Eivind Hovig
  27. K.G. Jebsen Center for Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Public Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, Norway

    • Kristian Hveem
  28. HUNT Research Center, Department of Public Health, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Levanger, Norway

    • Kristian Hveem
  29. Department of Medicine, Levanger Hospital, Levanger, Norway

    • Kristian Hveem
  30. Genomics and Biomarkers Unit, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, Finland

    • Anu Jalanko
    •  & Camilla Stoltenberg
  31. Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Oslo, Norway

    • Gun Peggy Knudsen
  32. Department of Epidemiology Research, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Mads Melbye
  33. Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

    • Mads Melbye
  34. Department of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Mads Melbye
  35. The Estonian Genome Center, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia

    • Andres Metspalu
  36. National Centre for Register-Based Research, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

    • Preben Bo Mortensen
  37. iPSYCH—The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Psychiatric Research, Aarhus, Denmark

    • Preben Bo Mortensen
  38. Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

    • Juni Palmgren
  39. Swedish e-Science Research Center, SeRC, Stockholm, Sweden

    • Juni Palmgren
  40. Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    • Aarno Palotie
  41. Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA, USA

    • Aarno Palotie
  42. Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

    • Aarno Palotie
  43. Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA, USA

    • Aarno Palotie
  44. Department of Research, Innovation and Education, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

    • Wenche Reed
  45. deCODE Genetics, Reykjavik, Iceland

    • Hreinn Stefánsson
    •  & Kári Stefánsson
  46. University of Reykjavik, Reykjavik, Iceland

    • Hreinn Stefánsson
    •  & Kári Stefánsson
  47. Cardiovascular Division, Department of Medicine, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO, USA

    • Nathan O. Stitziel
    •  & Unnur Thorsteinsdóttir
  48. Department of Genetics, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO, USA

    • Nathan O. Stitziel
    •  & Unnur Thorsteinsdóttir
  49. McDonnell Genome Institute, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO, USA

    • Nathan O. Stitziel
  50. Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

    • Patrick F. Sullivan
  51. Department of Medical Biochemistry and Genetics, University of Turku, Turku, Finland

    • Eero Vuorio
  52. Institute of Biological Psychiatry, Mental Health Center Sct. Hans, Mental Health Services Capital Region of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Thomas Werge
  53. Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

    • Thomas Werge
  54. Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway

    • Camilla Stoltenberg

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Contributions

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.

Competing interests

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

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Pål Rasmus Njølstad.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0391-1

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