The BC Generations Project is British Columbia’s largest-ever health study. The Project follows a cohort of nearly 30,000 BC participants who volunteer their health information and biological samples to help researchers learn more about how environment, lifestyle and genes contribute to cancer and other chronic diseases.
We are part of a national initiative – Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health – to collect health information and biological samples from more than 300,000 Canadians. In addition to British Columbia (BC), there are five other study regions currently involved: Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada.
Between 2009 and 2016, the BC Generations Project has recruited nearly 30,000 BC residents aged 35-69. All our participants have provided baseline information including their health, diet and lifestyle, and medical and family history. A high percentage have also provided baseline biosamples (blood and urine) and other physical measures.
Over 50 years, the BC Generations Project will collect further health information from participants and track their health outcomes. Of particular interest to BC researchers is the role of environmental exposures in disease risk.
The sum of this information – collected over time among a large study group – will provide the basis for answering important questions about the origins of cancer and chronic diseases. And by combining datasets collected in other regions across the country, researchers will be able to identify disease patterns even with relatively rare diseases or rare exposures.
While the BC Generations Project is unlikely to benefit study participants directly, their children and grandchildren may benefit from the outcomes of thousands of research studies that draw on this massive collection of high-quality, highly-secure health data. Ultimately, we hope to develop new ways to detect and prevent cancer and other chronic diseases.
Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health is hosted by the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health with national funding from the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer. Major supporters in British Columbia also include the BC Cancer Agency and the BC Cancer Foundation.