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Research Strategy - An Overview

The Leibniz Institute for Prevention Research and Epidemiology - BIPS develops effective strategies for the prevention of chronic, non-communicable diseases. Supporting a healthy life-course early on is our primary goal. The focus of our research is therefore on factors beyond individual diseases, such as lifestyle and environment, biological and social factors, as well as early detection and drug safety. Our research spectrum covers methodological development, the identification of the causes of diseases, and intervention and implementation research. We also offer information to politicians and the general population and provide academic qualification to young scientists. BIPS thus covers the entire cycle of epidemiological research.

Under the central theme of "population-based prevention research in the life-course," the institute conducts interdisciplinary epidemiological health research on the national and international level. It develops innovative methods and utilizes diverse data sources to study significant health disorders and to evaluate preventive measures and strategies. In addition, BIPS significantly contributes to the establishment of research infrastructures of national and international importance. To this end, BIPS is also committed to the expansion of research data management and the FAIRification of research data as an important basis of Open Science and Open Data.

For many years, strengthening prevention has been a key scientific, social, and political objective. BIPS is dedicated to achieve this goal with high-quality research based upon methodological research investigating epidemiological questions with a focus on the development of epidemiological and statistical methods. The institute emphasizes the particular importance of the life-course perspective for the health of individuals and the population as a whole with its focus on long-term studies. Research at the institute provides important insights to ensure and improve health and well-being with measures that begin early and are related to transition periods within the life-course.

Three areas form the core of our research

1. Identifying causes of disease

Research on health risks and health-promoting factors.

Our etiological research aims at better understanding the impact of environmental, behavioral, and biological factors on the development of chronic non-communicable diseases. We are interested in both risk factors and health-promoting factors as well as their interactions. The research area also comprises investigation of the risks and benefits of health interventions, including pharmacological treatments. In this way, we provide the foundation for the design of effective preventive measures.

2. Promoting health

Research into effective measures to promote health and prevent diseases.

We are guided by the World Health Organization's comprehensive concept of health and conduct research on effective, equitable and sustainable approaches to prevention and health promotion. With our research, we develop innovative prevention measures for chronic diseases, investigate the implementation of these measures, and evaluate their effectiveness. Taking a local, regional or global health perspective, we work with different population groups and consider their living conditions. In addition to individual health behavior, we also investigate the societal conditions that influence this behavior. Our prevention research focuses on the participation of all stakeholders and the creation of a healthy living environment.

3. Laying the methodological foundations

Developing appropriate methods for collecting, analyzing and validating epidemiological data.

The collection, processing and analysis of epidemiological research data are becoming increasingly complex. Therefore, we are working on innovative methods for data collection, are establishing intelligent data management systems and are developing appropriate statistical methods. Furthermore, we are improving methods for the validation of survey and measurement tools and for the evaluation of preventive measures. In addition, our institute makes a significant contribution to the development of modern research data infrastructures of international importance while adhering to the highest data protection standards.

We pursue seven central goals with our research

1. Understanding the interplay of health determinants

How do environmental, behavioral and biological factors influence our health?

2. Promoting child health

How to set the course for a healthy life at an early stage of life?

3. Improving drug safety

How to avoid the risks of drugs in routine care?

4. Exploring health in the digital era

What opportunities and risks does digitalization pose for health?

5. Implementing preventive measures effectively

What strategies facilitate the uptake of evidence-based programs?

6. Informing health-related decision-making

How to quantify risks and benefits of health interventions with observational data?

7. Leveraging complex health data

How can we develop intelligent methods for analyzing multidimensional data?

Our population-based research focuses on chronic, non-communicable diseases such as cancer, obesity, and diseases of the cardiovascular system. We are not limited to individual diseases. The selection of and work on the individual research questions in the above-mentioned research areas and aims are based on the respective current state of science. The research infrastructures established at BIPS form an important basis for this. It includes the German Pharmacoepidemiological Research Database GePaRD, the BIPS BioBank, the Bremen Cancer Registry, the Bremen Mortality Index, as well as an extensive and constantly growing inventory of high-quality population-based primary data and survey tools resulting from diverse research projects of BIPS. As a study center for the nationwide prospective German National Cohort, BIPS has a long-term commitment to the largest ongoing epide­miological research project in Germany at present and thereby is in accordance with the roadmap for the health research program of the Federal Government.

Internationally, we are involved in numerous research collaborations. In the European context, in particular, BIPS cooperates on its research areas and aims with numerous other top research facilities. BIPS has assumed a leading role in various European consortia. For example, BIPS has been the principal leader of a large European research consortium on child health for many years. In accordance with our growing visibility and expertise, we want to consolidate our leadership role in strategically significant projects and continue to take the lead on the international level in the future. In order to achieve this goal, the institute aims to further intensify the professional exchange and scientific cooperation with other leading research institutions worldwide, particularly in Europe and North America. We pursue this internationalization on three levels: (1) To cooperate further, we will make targeted use of thematically focused bi- or tri-national projects in addition to major international collaborative research projects. (2) In order to intensify the exchange of knowledge, we will use existing cooperative structures and databanks to invite highly qualified scientists of other leading research institutes to visit BIPS. In return, we are increasingly encouraging our scientists to visit cooperating institutions abroad. (3) Through the internationalization of our personnel, we will integrate international cooperation into daily work at BIPS.