The University of Tartu (UTARTU, founded in 1632) is the oldest, largest and the only classical university in Estonia with more than 14,000 students and 1,500 academic staff members. As Estonia’s national university, UTARTU stresses the importance of international co-operation and partnerships with reputable research universities all over the world. To support and develop the professional competence of its students and academic staff, the university has entered into bilateral co-operation agreements with 79 partner institutions in 31 countries. UTARTU is Estonia’s leading centre of research and training. Research at UTARTU focuses on subjects as diverse as medicine and philosophy, genetics and computer science. More than half of the PhD theses written in Estonia are defended at UTARTU. More than half of the country’s research publications are authored by UTARTU academics, and the university manages work-intensive research projects and topics in every important research area. UTARTU currently ranks among the top 1.2 percent of the world’s best universities (Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2019) and belongs to the top 1% of the world’s most-cited universities and research institutions in 12 fields, including clinical medicine, molecular biology and genetics.

The Institute of Genomics (IG) at UTARTU has been established by merging the Estonian Genome Centre (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