Epidemiology, Health Economics and Human Genetics

Epidemiologic research at the Center is dedicated to elucidate the impact of genetic predisposition and environmental and life-style risk factors on human health. Our aim is to improve prevention of important chronic diseases using epidemiologic methods and to integrate expertise from basic research into translational science. We use population-based approaches which allow us to prospectively investigate early development of disease.

The current research program focuses on diabetes and lung and allergic diseases (including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, atopic eczema and hay fever) as well as cardiovascular disorders (including obesity, atherosclerosis and myocardial infarction). It is based on large cohorts of children, adults and the elderly with continued follow-up and storage of biosamples over long time periods. The development of early changes in health status and finally of clinically relevant disorders is observed for periods of 10 to more than 25 years. We examine the cohort members and collect information on intermediate phenotypes and genetic pattern to characterize the overall host metabolic state.

Among the environmental risk factors, ambient particulate matter was one of the central research focuses in the past decade. A broad spectrum of health outcomes is addressed with emphasis on diabetes, pulmonary and cardiovascular effects.

Human genetics focuses on the identification and functional characterization of genes related to diseases like endocrine disorders, cardiac disorders and mitochondrial disorders. Mapping techniques including next generation sequencing are applied in search of disease- associated gene variants. Additionally, the spectra of omic-platforms are used.

Health Economics and Health Care Management analyzes approaches to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of health care. Using empirical methods, economic, socioeconomic and management issues are investigated at the level of health systems and populations, at the level of care strategies and technologies, and at the level of health care institutions.

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Prof. Dr. Annette Peters
Institute of Epidemiology II