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Opportunities of national screening programs for scientific research

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The information and samples collected in national population screening programs represent a wealth of information and could help scientists discover new diagnostics, treatments and insights in how to prevent disease. The use of this data for these purposes brings about many challenges. Health-RI visited the RIVM Centre for Population Screening to discuss common challenges.

Everyone in the Netherlands will be invited, at a certain point in life, to take part in one of the national population screening programs. These programs are intended to detect indicators of certain life-threatening diseases, since early treatment increases the chances of full recovery.

The use of the data and samples resulting from these programs for scientific research purposes brings about many challenges. For example, on how to inform the participants and how to preserve participants’ privacy. The RIVM Centre for Population Screening (Centrum voor Bevolkingsonderzoek, CvB) directs, manages and coordinates the national population screening programs. Health-RI CSO Gerrit Meijer visited the CvB to discuss how to work together at a national level to overcome these challenges, now and in the future.

First step forwards

Sharing health data and samples in a FAIR, secure and sustainable way is a challenge faced by many organizations that collect and analyze this type of sensitive information. Finding the right solutions requires mutual understanding, trust and collaboration between all possible stakeholders. The CvB and Health-RI identified many opportunities to address these matters. Health-RI is looking forward to further explore these and work together to build on a learning healthcare system for the Netherlands.

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