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MORGAM (Monica Risk Genetics Archiving and Monograph)

MORGAM is a pooling project based on cohorts, which were originally recruited for population surveys carried out by the WHO MONICA Project centres since the 1980s. Today the study extends to 21 centres in 12 countries and 156 370 subjects in the cohorts with a total of 19652 deaths, and 12845 first fatal or non–fatal coronary heart disease (CHD) or stroke events during prospective follow-up. DNA samples are available for 69266 of these subjects, with a total of 4824 deaths and 4296 first fatal and non-fatal CHD and Stroke events. Considerable energy has been expended on ensuring phenotypic and endpoint comparability. This has been achieved by means of the application of strict quality control and assessment procedures. The MORGAM strategy has been to measure limited range of well-standardized phenotypes and to relate these eventually to a large number of genotypes. The phenotypes include the classic cardiovascular risk factors and height, weight, BMI and waist/ hip ratio which are of special interest to insulin resistance.

Serum is still available from many of the cohorts and is being used for in-depth assessment of biomarkers. MORGAM has adopted a case cohort design for the genotyping. This allows for the study of multiple endpoints and also establishes gene frequency in the different participating populations. The metabochip genotyping array of 200,000 genetic markers for metabolic and cardiovascular diseases and traits has been applied to a case-cohort set of 6 535 subjects. In addition to the actual analysis of the data, MORGAM is developing methods and strategies for analyzing the wealth of data which is accumulating. MORGAM has also had to develop its own rules to cope with the ethical issues which are involved in studies of its type.

The MORGAM data and samples are owned by the respective cohort centres. The MORGAM Data Centre for the data pooling and harmonization and the MORGAM Central Laboratory for the DNA logistics are located at THL. The Biomarker determinations are coordinated at Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg. Several new large cohorts are currently being harmonized to MORGAM as a part of the biomarker study.

Key reference:
MORGAM (an international pooling of cardiovascular cohorts). Evans A, Salomaa V, Kulathinal S, Asplund K, Cambien F, Ferrario M, Perola M, Peltonen L, Shields D, Tunstall-Pedoe H, Kuulasmaa K; MORGAM Project. Int J Epidemiol. 2005 Feb;34(1):21-7