The Netherlands joins the Million European Genomes Alliance

Dutch Minister of Medical Care and Sports, Mr. Bruno Bruins, has co-signed the European Declaration about the Million European Genomes initiative on behalf of the Netherlands.

Minister Bruins has informed the House of Representatives of the Netherlands about this step, as part of his letter to the Parliament on sharing healthcare information in international context (‘Zorginformatiedeling in internationale context’). The letter also highlights background, considerations and the motivations that led to the decision to co-sign.

On June 4th, 2018, a broad coalition of stakeholders in the life sciences and health field urged the Dutch Government to co-sign the MEGA declaration. Prof. Gert Jan van Ommen, one of the signatories of the letter to the ministry on behalf of Health-RI and liaison BBMRI-ERIC / BBMRI-NL, is delighted with this essential step forwards. “This is very good news for patients and citizens, in the Netherlands and in Europe. Better prevention of diseases, earlier diagnosis and more accurate personalized treatments of major diseases are among the expected deliverables of this European cooperation.”

Meanwhile the declaration ‘Towards access to at least 1 million sequenced genomes in the European Union by 2022’ is now embraced by 18 European Member States, and representatives of this coalition of Member States are preparing for implementation of the MEGA initiative. The alliance strives to bring together 1 million ‘whole’ genomes and associated relevant clinical data in 2022. Per country involved a national reference data collection will be built to establish the knowledge base to grow from personalized diagnostics through personalized treatment to personalized prevention of disease.

Prof. Van Ommen: “The Netherlands traditionally has been building a huge expertise base in clinical / human genetics as well as in biobanking, genomics and related data approaches that are at the basis of the MEGA ambitions. In the upcoming period we will work closely with our Government and the broad community of Dutch stakeholders to give shape to the MEGA initiative from the Dutch perspective. The multi-disciplinary nature of the MEGA project will benefit greatly from the Health-RI umbrella-initiative that is now taking shape in the Netherlands.”

16 October 2018