Studies on different populations will help us to determine the relative importance of the genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors that contribute to common diseases.
In order for these studies to provide reliable results, they need to involve large numbers of people.
Many projects are running in countries throughout the European Union, and it would be highly advantageous to encourage greater collaboration between individual studies.
An understanding of the contribution of genetic and other factors to common diseases would help identify people at risk. Steps could be taken to help these people remain healthy.
Improvements in healthcare delivery will involve collaboration between consumers, health service providers, public health officials and the pharmaceutical industry.
Research and data collection, early product development and implementation of new healthcare technologies would all benefit from greater cross-Europe coordination and harmonisation of procedures.
Attention needs to be given to the ethical approvals obtained for projects, to balance the need to protect individual rights with the potential to provide benefits to populations more generally.
The European Commission has an opportunity to accelerate the translation of research findings into better healthcare for EU citizens through the Framework Programme 7.