Open Access Open Badges Study protocol

The Diabetes Pearl: Diabetes biobanking in The Netherlands

Esther van’t Riet12*, Miranda T Schram34, Evertine J Abbink5, Wanda M Admiraal6, Marja W Dijk-Schaap7, Frits Holleman6, Giel Nijpels18, Behiye Özcan9, Hanno Pijl7, Nicolaas C Schaper1011, Eric JG Sijbrands9, Bianca Silvius12, Cees J Tack5, Harold W de Valk12, Bruce HR Wolffenbuttel13, Coen DA Stehouwer34 and Jacqueline M Dekker12

Author Affiliations

1 VU University Medical Center, EMGO Institute for Health and Care Research, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2 VU University Medical Center, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

3 Maastricht University Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht, The Netherlands

4 Maastricht University Medical Center, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands

5 Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

6 Academic Medical Center Amsterdam, Department of Internal Medicine, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

7 Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Edocrinology & Metabolism, Leiden, The Netherlands

8 VU University Medical Center, Department of General Practice, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

9 Erasmus University Medical Center, Department of Internal Medicine, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

10 Maastricht University Medical Center, Department of Endocrinology, Maastricht, The Netherlands

11 Maastricht University Medical Center, School for Public Health and Primary Care, Maastricht, The Netherlands

12 University Medical Center Utrecht, Department of Internal Medicine, Utrecht, The Netherlands

13 University Medical Center Groningen, Department of Endocrinology, Groningen, The Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:949  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-949

Published: 6 November 2012



Type 2 diabetes is associated with considerable comorbidity and severe complications, which reduce quality of life of the patients and require high levels of healthcare. The Diabetes Pearl is a large cohort of patients diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, covering different geographical areas in the Netherlands. The aim of the study is to create a research infrastructure that will allow the study of risk factors, including biomarkers and genetic determinants for severe diabetes complications.


Baseline examinations began November 2009 and will continue through 2012. By the end of 2012, it is expected that 7000 patients with type 2 diabetes will be included in the Diabetes Pearl cohort. To ensure quality of the data collected, standard operation procedures were developed and used in all 8 recruitment centers. From all patients who provide informed consent, the following information is collected: personal information, medication use, physical examination (antropometry, blood pressure, electrocardiography (ECG), retina photographs, ankle-brachial index, peripheral vibration perception), self-report questionnaire (socio-economic status, lifestyle, (family) history of disease, and psychosocial well-being), laboratory measurements (glucose, A1c, lipid profile, kidney function), biobank material (storage of urine and blood samples and isolated DNA). All gathered clinical data and biobank information is uploaded to a database for storage on a national level. Biobanks are maintained locally at all recruitment centers.


The Diabetes Pearl is large-scale cohort of type 2 diabetes patients in the Netherlands aiming to study risk factors, including biomarkers and genetic markers, for disease deterioration and the development of severe diabetes complications. As a result of the well-designed research design and the national coverage, the Diabetes Pearl data can be of great value to national and international researchers with an interest in diabetes related research.

Design; Biobank; Research infrastructure; Type 2 diabetes; The Netherlands