Scientific Calls

Transnational Access to Large Prospective Cohorts in Europe

BBMRI-LPC supports innovative research projects conducted in large prospective cohorts (LPC) across Europe. This is done by offering free access to samples for specific research projects selected through open scientific calls. Building on the success of the first call in 2014 and the second call in spring 2015, a third BBMRI-LPC Scientific Call for Access will be launched in fall 2015.

This is an outstanding opportunity for European scientists to gain access to the unique collections of data and biospecimens from the BBMRI-LPC network of high-quality cohort studies to carry out ground-breaking research projects.

The first call yielded nine full applications focusing on a wide range of diseases, four of which were selected for support from BBMRI-LPC on the basis of the specific review criteria (for details, see below).
The applications received for the second call are currently (summer 2015) under review.

BBMRI-LPC Second Scientific Call for Access is now closed
Check our website for the upcoming third call


If you wish to submit a research proposal to gain free access to biosamples and data from participating cohorts, please read through the call text below. Instructions on how to apply can be found on Data Access > How to apply.

Letter of intent
In order to estimate the number of expected study proposals, applicants are asked to indicate their intention to apply by sending an e-mail with name, affiliation and analysis of interest to the following address:

Please contact us even if you are not certain that you will apply.



The BBMRI-LPC project (Biobanking and Biomolecular Research Infrastructure – Large Prospective Cohorts) aims to facilitate large transnational research projects conducted in prospective cohort studies. The project is funded through the European Commission seventh framework program (FP7), and the activities revolve around developing procedures for bringing together samples and data from multiple European cohorts, with a specific focus on quality assurance, ethical, legal, and logistical issues. An important aspect of this work is by providing free access to samples and exposure data to support concrete research projects involving multiple prospective cohorts selected through a competitive review process (i.e. the BBMRI-LPC Scientific Call for Access). Since the primary aim of the scientific call is to cover the costs of accessing data and samples from the cohorts, the downstream research must be supported by alternative funds. However, a limited amount of funds will also be granted to selected projects in order to support generation of new ‘Omics data’.

The first BBMRI-LPC Scientific Call for Access was launched in April 2014. Several scientifically relevant proposals were received covering a wide range of diseases, such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Overall, one out of three proposals was selected for support from BBMRI-LPC. Two of the selected projects will also receive support for genome-wide genotyping and metabolomics analysis.

The second BBMRI-LPC Scientific Call for Access was launched in March 2015. Several strong proposals were received and are currently (summer 2015) under review.

Examples of research projects supported in the first BBMRI-LPC Scientific Call for Access

  • Exposure to brominated disinfection by-products and prospective metabolic alteration

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a pathological condition expressing hepatic insulin resistance characteristics, increasing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). The aim of this project is to investigate causal pathways between exposures to commonly occurring brominated disinfection by-products and T2DM. This will be addressed by analysing brominated trihalomethanes (Br-THM) in urine samples from two cohorts, as well as metabolomics and GWAS analysis on a subset of the study population.
Principal investigator: Konstantinos Makris, Cyprus International Institute for Environmental and Public Health in association with Harvard School of Public Health

  • Markers of Imminent Myocardial Infarction (MIMI) study

Myocardial infarction (MI) is the leading cause of death worldwide. The aim of the project is to identify novel biomarkers indicative of MI within 6 months (imminent) of blood draw. Technologies that will be applied include targeted protein measures, metabolomics and epigenomics. The proposal also includes a Mendelian randomization component to evaluate potential causal relations. The hope is to develop a panel of biomarkers that are useful in risk prediction, as well as informative for disease aetiology.
Principal investigator: Johan Sundström, Uppsala University, Sweden

  • Discovery of early biomarkers for pancreatic cancer

Patients with pancreatic cancer have extremely poor survival rates, with the post-diagnostic life expectancy of only a few months. This project aims to discover pre-diagnostic biomarker profiles for pancreatic cancer based on metabolites and miRNAs with an aim for earlier detection, and to eventually allow more successful interventions.
Principal investigator: GertJan B. van Ommen, Leiden University Medical Centre, Netherlands

  • Metabolic pathways of kidney cancer

The most important risk factors for kidney cancer include obesity, hypertension and other factors attributed to the metabolic syndrome (MetS), but the underlying biological mechanism(s) mediating these strong relations remain unclear. This project aims to evaluate the metabolic profiles predisposing kidney cancer using metabolomics analysis. This analysis will also be complemented by a Mendelian randomization analysis to evaluate potential causal relations.
Principal investigator: Mattias Johansson, International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France

Participating cohorts

The BBMRI-LPC project constitutes a large network of 22 European cohort studies, involving over 1 million study participants with lifestyle information and biospecimens collected at baseline. Detailed information on the participating cohorts and the available resources are described on this website and the BBMRI-LPC biobank catalogue.

Scope for study proposals

Study proposals for  the BBMRI-LPC Scientific Calls for Access should preferably target the broad field of common chronic diseases (e.g. cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer), and must substantially benefit from using prospective data from a pan-European study design (involving at least two cohorts). Of note, because the participating cohorts predominantly recruited healthy research participants that were subsequently followed to identify incident disease cases, studies of rare exposures or endpoints may not be feasible. Examples of studies of particular interest would involve studies on disease aetiology, where pre-diagnostic measures of the exposure is important, either through questionnaire information or biomarker analysis, as well as studies of disease biomarkers for early detection or risk profiling.

Support offered

The successful research projects will be offered free access to samples and exposure data from a large network of 19 European cohort studies, involving over 1 million study participants with lifestyle information and biospecimen collected at baseline. Funds will not be provided directly to the successful applicants, but will be provided to the cohorts to perform the access services requested by the successful applicants.

These funds will cover the following:

  • Support for retrieval, preparation, quality control and shipment of samples;
  • Support for data management (e.g. registry linkage, matching of controls to index cases, retrieval of exposure and endpoint variables, but not data harmonization);
  • Support for attaining scientific review board and ethics approval at the cohort home institution.

Because the primary focus of the scientific call is to provide free access to cohort samples and data, funds will not be provided to support the downstream research, such as laboratory analyses, statistical analyses, or harmonisation of data. Costs for these activities will have to be covered by the applicant through other sources of funding. However, as indicated above, BBMRI-LPC will provide the selected applicants with some support to generate metabolomics and whole-genome genotyping/sequencing data on the cohort samples. It is envisaged that predefined and cost-efficient assays will be used: for the metabolomics analyses a targeted platform operational at The Genome Analysis Centre of Helmholtz Centre in Munich, Germany; and for the Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) analyses a genotyping array from a major industrial party covering both common and rare gene variants operational at The Welcome Trust Sanger Institute in Hinxton, UK. These analyses will be performed in the studies where the investigators can demonstrate in their proposal that the analyses will add a substantial value to their specific research project.

Of note, BBMRI-LPC will assess the data harmonisation approach proposed by the applicant in the review process. However, the actual data harmonisation procedure will be carried out by the applicant.


The BBMRI-LPC Scientific Calls for Access are open to scientists and investigators who work in an institution located in an EU Member State or Associated State.

Transnational access means that applicants cannot gain free access to the biospecimen/data from cohorts of their home country, but only from cohorts of other participating countries. The exception to this rule is when an application is filed by an international consortium of researchers from several countries.

Review criteria

The criteria for evaluation of the proposals are as follows:

  • Prospective and pan-European study design: Any approved project must show that the research question requires a study design where the research participants were recruited prior to the endpoint or phenotype of interest, and that the study will benefit significantly by including data from multiple European countries. Only studies fulfilling these initial criteria will be considered for support.
  • Significance: The proposed project must address an important biomedical research question.
  • Scientific excellence / Approach: The proposal must describe all methodological considerations and explain how the specific objectives of the project will be addressed and achieved. Particularly, the proposal should describe type of samples, exposure and endpoint variables that will be needed, as well as the proposed approach for harmonisation of data and statistical analysis thereof.
  • Innovation: The Review Committee will favour research projects that seek to challenge existing methodological paradigms and have potential to move the field of research forward.
  • Investigators and research environment: Background of the investigators and their institutions will be taken into account.

Evaluation procedure

An independent, scientific Review Committee is responsible for the evaluation of the research proposals.
Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the above-listed criteria and in light of on-going international research. Proposals will be scored in each criterion from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) and ranked according to their sum of scores across all criteria.

Proposals selected for support by BBMRI-LPC will be recommended for a final approval by the individual cohorts whose resources are sought. Experience from the previous BBMRI-LPC Scientific Calls for Access indicates that successfully reviewed proposals are also viewed favourably by the individual cohorts.

Any individual research project considered for access support from BBMRI-LPC will be required to attain ethics clearance by the home institution of the investigator. In addition, most cohorts will require additional local ethics clearance for the proposed research that can be sought following the review.

Indicative timetable for evaluation

Proposals are evaluated within three months after a call deadline.


For further information on the BBMRI-LPC scientific calls, please go to the BBMRI-LPC Access website.
For further information on how to apply, please go to Data Access > How to apply , or click here.
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