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  Updated: 30-Mar-2017

Rotterdammers enable healthy aging of global population

 Tue 26-May-2015

Large-scale ERGO Study at the highest scientific level for 25 years

Is healthy aging possible? This was the question with which Erasmus MC epidemiologists started the large-scale ERGO Study (Erasmus Rotterdam Health Study) 25 years ago. Thanks to the participation of more than 15,000 residents of the Ommoord district of Rotterdam the population study now has reason to celebrate. The unique scope, the duration of the study and the many scientific results obtained mean that the study helps create a healthier global population. Erasmus MC will be celebrating this milestone with the participants of the study at a festive conference on Saturday 31 October in the World Trade Center (WTC) in Rotterdam.

The ERGO study is known internationally as 'The Rotterdam Study' and its outcomes are closely monitored. More than 175 researchers since 1990 have received their PhD based on the results of the study and they published more than 1250 scientific articles in leading international journals. Professor Bert Hofman, founder of the ERGO Study: "In these 25 years, 15,000 residents of the Ommoord district of Rotterdam have contributed to medical science. Getting the participants to have their health checked once every four years enables us to study health problems common in old age. This improves our understanding of the development and progression of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, brain diseases, and eye diseases. ERGO and the participants have in this way made an important contribution to the health of the global population. I am extremely grateful to the participants and researchers for this."

The study had several highlights in the 20th century. Hofman: "In 1990, Princess Juliana opened the ERGO research center in Ommoord. This indicated how important this research was. At the time, it became clear that the number of older people was increasing and that old age is associated with the onset of serious diseases and that little was known about the causes of these diseases. In addition, we didn't know how prevalent these diseases were and how they affected the quality of life. It has now been shown that the average age is still increasing and that we are healthier for longer before age-related diseases affect us." In 2005, the MRI room went into operation in the Ommoord Health Center. The introduction of an MRI scanner specifically for a population study on-site was a world first. "Since then, thousands of scans have been made and we now know, for example, that dementia causes changes in the brain long before the patient complains of symptoms. This is why we will be expanding the study in the coming year to include 5,000 new, and especially younger, participants. We will be doing this because we believe that certain diseases that manifest themselves later in life already show signs at a young age. Invitations will be sent to residents aged over 40 in the Ommoord district."

During the conference, researchers will present the results achieved by ERGO. What are the main results? How will these results benefit the participants? And how can we use these results for future generations? The latest developments regarding strokes, dementia, and the age-related eye disease macular degeneration will also be discussed. Furthermore, the anniversary magazine will be presented. This magazine gives an overview of all the research areas within ERGO, and researchers and participants share their experiences. Chair for the day will be Yvonne Nesselaar, who presents VitamineR, the health program on Radio Rijnmond.

Erasmus MC is the largest and most authoritative scientific University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Almost 13,000 staff members work within the core tasks of patient care, education, and scientific research on the continuous improvement and enforcement of individual patient care and social healthcare. They develop high-level knowledge, pass this on to future professionals, and apply it in everyday patient care. Over the next five years, Erasmus MC wants to grow into one of the best medical institutes in the world. Erasmus MC is part of the Dutch Federation of University Medical Centers (NFU): www.nfu.nl.


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