Rapid progress in information and biotechnologies offers the promise of better, personalized health strategies using rich phenotypic, environmental and molecular (omics) profiles of every individual. To capitalize on this great promise, key challenge is to relate these profiles to health and disease while accounting for high diversity in individuals, populations and environments. Both Europe and Canada have long-term investments in population-based prospective cohort studies providing essential longitudinal data. These data must be analysed in unison to reach statistical power, however, presently cohort data repositories are scattered, hard to search and integrate, and data protection and governance rules discourage central pooling. EUCAN-Connect will enable large-scale integrated cohort data analysis for personalized and preventive healthcare across EU and Canada. This will be based on an open, scalable data platform for cohorts, researchers and networks, incorporating FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) for optimal reuse of existing data, and building on maturing federated technologies, with sensitive data kept locally and only results being shared and integrated, in line with key ELSI and governance guidelines. Widespread uptake will be promoted via beyond state-of-the-art research in close collaboration with leading cohort networks, focused on early-life origins of cardio-metabolic, developmental, musculoskeletal and respiratory health and disease impacting human life course. To address challenges of sustainability and curation, we will deliver innovative solutions for distributed, low-cost data harvesting and preservation, community curation/harmonization, privacy protection, open source bioinformatics toolbox development, and international governance. EUCAN-Connect platform and collaborations will be coordinated through BBMRI-ERIC (EU) and Maelstrom Research (Canada) to sustain long-term benefits to science and citizens worldwide.
Major depressive disorder, dementia, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse affect a substantial part of the European older population. Over 70% of Europeans reside in cities, and this percentage will increase in the next decades. Urbanization and ageing have enormous implications for public mental health. Cities pose major challenges for older citizens, but also offer opportunities for the design of policies, clinical and public health interventions that promote mental health. The overall aim of the MINDMAP project is to identify the opportunities offered by the urban environment for the promotion of mental wellbeing and cognitive function of older individuals in Europe. The project will advance understanding by bringing together longitudinal studies across cities in Europe, the US and Canada to unravel the causal pathways and multi-level interactions between the urban environment and the social, behavioural, psychosocial and biological determinants of mental health and cognitive function in older adults. Specifically, the project will (a) assess the impact of the urban environment on the mental wellbeing and disorders associated with ageing, and estimate the extent to which exposure to specific urban environmental factors and policies explain differences in ageing-related mental and cognitive disorders both within as well as between European cities, (b) assess the causal pathways and interactions between the urban environment and the individual determinants of mental health and cognitive ageing in older adults, (c) use agent-based modelling to simulate the effect of urban environmental, prevention and care policies on the trajectories of mental health and cognitive ageing across cities in Europe. Knowledge will significantly contribute to future-proof preventive strategies in urban settings favouring the mental dimension of healthy ageing, the reduction of the negative impact of mental disorders on co-morbidities, and maintaining cognitive ability in old age.