Chronic diseases (e.g. heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and cancer) are the leading causes of death and disability in developed and developing countries. Large blood-based prospective cohort studies can provide reliable assessment of the complex interplay of lifestyle, environmental, and genetic susceptibility as causes of chronic disease. Establishing such a study in China is of particular value, given the large size of its population, its increasing burden of chronic diseases, its unique patterns of disease rates and risk exposures, and the limited evidence from previous studies about the causes of many common chronic conditions in this population.
The China Kadoorie Biobank (CKB), known previously as the Kadoorie Study of Chronic Disease in China (KSCDC), is set up to investigate the main genetic and environmental causes of common chronic diseases in the Chinese population. During 2004-8, over 510,000 adults were recruited from 10 geographically defined regions of China, with extensive data collection by questionnaire and physical measurements, and with long-term storage of blood samples for future study. All the participants are now being closely monitored for death and other health-related outcomes through linkage with established registries and health insurance databases in the study areas. Every few years, periodic re-surveys are also to be conducted in about 25,000 surviving participants, with a repeat interview, measurements and blood collection (as in the baseline survey) to help assess changes of risk exposures in the study population. This large, well-established, study will be a uniquely powerful and rich resource for investigating the main causes of many common chronic diseases over the next few decades, and the information generated will advance our understanding of disease aetiology not only in China but also in other countries.
The CKB is being conducted jointly by University of Oxford’s Clinical Trial Service Unit & Epidemiological Studies Unit (CTSU) and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences (CAMS). It was established with funding support to CTSU from the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation (KCF) in Hong Kong. The long-term continuation of the study is supported by the Wellcome Trust, with further support in China from the Chinese Natural Science Foundation and Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The UK Medical Research Council (MRC), British Heart Foundation (BHF) and Cancer Research UK (CRUK) also provide core funding to CTSU for the project.