University of Oulu

Fortier, I., Wey, T., Bergeron, J., Pinot de Moira, A., Nybo-Andersen, A., Bishop, T., . . . Burton, P. (2023). Life course of retrospective harmonization initiatives: Key elements to consider. Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, 14(2), 190-198. doi:10.1017/S2040174422000460

Life course of retrospective harmonization initiatives : key elements to consider

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Author: Fortier, Isabel1; Wey, Tina W.1; Bergeron, Julie1;
Organizations: 1Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, QC, Canada
2Section of Epidemiology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
3Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark
4Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, England, UK
5School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK
6Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada
7University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Netherlands
8Department of Genetics, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Netherlands
9Epigeny, St. Ouen, France
10BBMRI-ERIC, Graz, Austria
11INESC TEC - Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science, Porto, Portugal
12University of Oulu, Finland
13Department of Epidemiology, Institute of Public Health of the University of Porto, Portugal
14Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, England, UK
15Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
16Population Health Sciences Institute, Newcastle University, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, UK
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.7 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Cambridge University Press, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-10-31


Optimizing research on the developmental origins of health and disease (DOHaD) involves implementing initiatives maximizing the use of the available cohort study data; achieving sufficient statistical power to support subgroup analysis; and using participant data presenting adequate follow-up and exposure heterogeneity. It also involves being able to undertake comparison, cross-validation, or replication across data sets. To answer these requirements, cohort study data need to be findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR), and more particularly, it often needs to be harmonized. Harmonization is required to achieve or improve comparability of the putatively equivalent measures collected by different studies on different individuals. Although the characteristics of the research initiatives generating and using harmonized data vary extensively, all are confronted by similar issues. Having to collate, understand, process, host, and co-analyze data from individual cohort studies is particularly challenging. The scientific success and timely management of projects can be facilitated by an ensemble of factors. The current document provides an overview of the ‘life course’ of research projects requiring harmonization of existing data and highlights key elements to be considered from the inception to the end of the project.

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Series: Journal of developmental origins of health and disease
ISSN: 2040-1744
ISSN-E: 2040-1752
ISSN-L: 2040-1744
Volume: 14
Issue: 2
Pages: 190 - 198
DOI: 10.1017/S2040174422000460
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3142 Public health care science, environmental and occupational health
Funding: This work received funding from the European Commission (EUCANconnect, a federated FAIR platform enabling large-scale analysis of high-value cohort data connecting Europe and Canada in personalized health, Grant Agreement No 824989) with its Canadian project partners being funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Fonds de la Recherche du Québec (FRQ). The RECAP Preterm project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 733280. R Wilson is a UKRI Innovation Fellow with HDR UK [MR/S003959/1].
EU Grant Number: (824989) EUCAN-Connect - A federated FAIR platform enabling large-scale analysis of high-value cohort data connecting Europe and Canada in personalized health
Copyright information: © The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press in association with International Society for Developmental Origins of Health and Disease. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licence (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the same Creative Commons licence is included and the original work is properly cited. The written permission of Cambridge University Press must be obtained for commercial re-use.