The Institute of Genomics (IG) at UTARTU has been established by merging the Estonian Genome Centr (EGC) and Estonian Biocentre. The main research directions of the EGC at the IG have been to understand the role of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors in health and disease. The EGC hosts the Estonian Biobank, conducted according to the Estonian Human Genes Research Act (HGRA). All participants have signed a broad informed consent, allowing researchers to use of their health and genomics data for various studies upon approval by the Estonian Committee on Bioethics and Human Research. The current cohort size is ca 200,000 individuals, reflecting the age, sex and geographical distribution of the adult Estonian population. Upon recruitment, all participants completed a questionnaire, including data about their health status, lifestyle and diet. By 2020, the entire cohort was genotyped with genome-wide arrays. The EGC database is regularly linked with national registries, hospital databases, and the database of the national health insurance fund to get up-to-date information.
The Estonian Human Genes Research Act enables re-contacting and interviewing biobank participants, and the rules to access data and samples are clear and transparent. Research at EGC has focused on the health trajectories of biobank participants, their respective genetic profiles, behavioural information and applying the obtained data to improve public health. The activities of the EGC focus on advancing personalised medicine in Estonia. The Institute of Genomics is a centre identified in the Estonian and European Research (Infrastructure) Roadmap and a partner in the Centre of Excellence in Genomics. IG participates in the European Strategy Forum on the Research Infrastructures project Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure (BBMRI – head of the National Node is Prof. A. Metspalu) and is also one of the founding Charter members of the international biobank consortium “Public Population Project in Genomics and Society” (P3G). From 2018, the University of Tartu is a core partner of European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Knowledge and Innovation Community (KIC) consortium EIT-Health. 17 of IG researchers belong to the top 1% of most quoted scientists in the world (ISI Web of Science).as