Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter August 27, 2020

Introducing the ORIGINS project: a community-based interventional birth cohort

  • Desiree T. Silva , Erika Hagemann ORCID logo EMAIL logo , Jacqueline A. Davis , Lisa Y. Gibson , Ravisha Srinivasjois , Debra J. Palmer , Lyn Colvin , Jamie Tan and Susan L. Prescott



Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pose the greatest threat to human health globally. The dramatic rise in early onset NCDs – such as childhood obesity, the allergy epidemic and an increasing burden of mental ill health in children and youth – reflect the profound early impact of modern environments on developing systems. The ORIGINS Project is a research platform enabling world class investigation of early antecedent pathways to NCDs, and how to curtail these. As well as facilitating strategic long-term research capacity, ORIGINS is a pipeline for short-term productivity through a series of clinical trials, early interventions, mechanistic studies, and targeted research questions to improve maternal and paternal health and the early environment.


ORIGINS is a decade-long collaborative initiative between the Joondalup Health Campus (JHC) and the Telethon Kids Institute (TKI) to establish a Western Australian (WA) birth cohort of 10,000 families, enrolled during pregnancy. It is currently funded to follow up participating children and their families to five years of age. Comprehensive data and biological samples are collected from participants at up to 15 different timepoints, from the first antenatal clinic visit. In the process, ORIGINS is creating a major research platform, consisting of an extensive, world class biobank and databank. Of key strength and novelty, ORIGINS includes a series of harmonised nested sub-projects integrated with clinical and diagnostic services and providing real-time feedback to improve the health of individuals and the community.


At its core, ORIGINS aims to improve the health and quality of life of the next generation through improved pathways to optimise the early environment and reduce adversity by promoting primary prevention, early detection and early intervention. This dynamic, interactive, community-based project not only provides novel research capacity, productivity, collaboration and translational impact on future generations – it is also anticipated to have flow on benefits for community engagement, cohesion and purpose. This will provide a sentinel example for tailored replication in other communities around the world as part of interconnected grass root strategies to improve planetary health.

Corresponding author: Erika Hagemann, Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, WA, Australia; and Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia. Phone: +61 8 6319 1330,

Funding source: Paul Ramsay Foundation

Funding source: The Department of Health, The Commonwealth of Australia



The ORIGINS Project is only possible because of the enthusiasm and commitment of the children and parents in ORIGINS. We are grateful to all the participants, health professionals and researchers who have made The ORIGINS Project happen.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank the following teams and individuals who have made this project possible: the ORIGINS project team; the CEO Dr Kempton Cowan and executive staff of JHC; the obstetric, neonatal and paediatric teams of JHC; Mayor Tracey Roberts, the City of Wanneroo; Mayor Albert Jacobs, the City of Joondalup; Professor Jonathan Carapetis, Director of TKI; Professor Fiona Stanley, the patron of ORIGINS; members of the CRG and PRG; the Executive Group, the Scientific Committee; the Project Management Group; and all the Research Interest Groups.

  1. Research funding: ORIGINS initially received start-up funding from JHC, TKI and the Telethon Perth Children’s Hospital Research Fund. In October 2017 ORIGINS received A$26 million over a 10-year period from the Australian Government and a philanthropic organisation, The Paul Ramsay Foundation via Telethon, to cover the core funding of ORIGINS. This is the first time in the history of Australian research that the Australian Government has funded a 10-year research project that focuses on prevention and early detection. Sub-projects are required to provide their own funding.

  2. Author contributions: All authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this manuscript and approved its submission.

  3. Competing interests: The authors state no conflict of interest.

  4. Informed consent: Informed consent was obtained from all individuals included in this study.

  5. Ethical approval: Ethics approval was granted by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Joondalup Health Campus, ref 1440. The research related to human use complied with all the relevant national regulations and institutional policies and was performed in accordance with the tenets of the Helsinki Declaration, and has been approved by the authors’ institutional review board or equivalent committee. Informed consent is not applicable. The conducted research is not related to animal use.

  6. Availability of data and material: Data sharing is not applicable to this article as no datasets were generated or analysed during the current study.

  7. Unpublished material: The authors state that the work described is not copyrighted, published, or submitted elsewhere, except possibly in abstract form.


1. Prescott, S, Logan, A. Transforming life: a broad view of the developmental origins of health and disease concept from an ecological justice perspective. Int J Environ Res Publ Health 2016;13:1075. in Google Scholar

2. Dubos, R, Savage, D, Schaedler, R. Lasting effects of early environmental influences. Int J Epidemiol 2005; 34: 5–12. in Google Scholar

3. Dubos, R. Man adapting. New Haven CT: Yale University Press; 1965.Search in Google Scholar

4. Dubos, R, Savage, D, Schaedler, R. Biological Freudianism. Lasting effects of early environmental influences. Pediatrics 1966; 38: 789–800.10.1542/peds.38.5.789Search in Google Scholar

5. Gluckman, PD, Hanson, MA, Cooper, C, Thornburg, KL. Effect of in utero and early-life conditions on adult health and disease. N Engl J Med 2008; 359: 61–73. in Google Scholar

6. Barker, DJ. The fetal and infant origins of adult disease. BMJ 1990;301:1111. in Google Scholar

7. Barker, DJ, Osmond, C. Infant mortality, childhood nutrition, and ischaemic heart disease in England and Wales. Lancet 1986; 1: 1077–81. in Google Scholar

8. Prescott, SL. Origins: early-life solutions to the modern health crisis. Perth: UWA Publishing; 2015.Search in Google Scholar

9. Abnormal development - developmental origins of health and disease; Available from: [Accessed 27 Feb 2019].Search in Google Scholar

10. Logan, AC, Jacka, FN, Craig, JM, Prescott, SL. The microbiome and mental health: looking back, moving forward with lessons from allergic diseases. Clin Psychopharmacol Neurosci 2016; 14: 131–47. in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

11. Prescott, SL, Wegienka, G, Logan, AC, Katz, DL. Dysbiotic drift and biopsychosocial medicine: how the microbiome links personal, public and planetary health. Biopsychosoc Med 2018; 12: 7. in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

12. Renz, H, Holt, PG, Inouye, M, Logan, AC, Prescott, SL, Sly, PD. An exposome perspective: early-life events and immune development in a changing world. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2017; 140: 24–40. in Google Scholar PubMed

13. Logan, AC, Prescott, SL, Haahtela, T, Katz, DL. The importance of the exposome and allostatic load in the planetary health paradigm. J Physiol Anthropol 2018; 37: 15. in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

14. Osborne, NJ, Koplin, JJ, Martin, PE, Gurrin, LC, Lowe, AJ, Matheson, MC, et al. Prevalence of challenge-proven IgE-mediated food allergy using population-based sampling and predetermined challenge criteria in infants. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2011; 127: 668–76. in Google Scholar

15. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australia. National Health Survey: first results. 2018. Canberra 2017-18. Cat. no. 4364.0.55.001.Search in Google Scholar

16. Why the AEDC is important; 27 February 2019. Available from: in Google Scholar

17. Hanson, MA, Gluckman, PD. Developmental origins of health and Disease – global public health implications. Best Pract Res Clin Obstet Gynaecol 2015; 29: 24–31. in Google Scholar

18. Hanson, M, Gluckman, P, Nutbeam, D, Hearn, J. Priority actions for the non-communicable disease crisis. Lancet 2011; 378: 566–7. in Google Scholar

19. Balbus, JM, Barouki, R, Birnbaum, LS, Etzel, RA, Gluckman, PDSr., Grandjean, P, et al. Early-life prevention of non-communicable diseases. Lancet 2013; 381: 3–4. in Google Scholar

20. Dodd, JM, Grivell, RM, Nguyen, AM, Chan, A, Robinson, JS. Maternal and perinatal health outcomes by body mass index category. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol 2011; 51: 136–40. in Google Scholar

21. McIntyre, HD, Gibbons, KS, Flenady, VJ, Callaway, LK. Overweight and obesity in Australian mothers: epidemic or endemic? Med J Aust 2012; 196: 184–8. in Google Scholar PubMed

22. Dickerson, J, Bird, PK, McEachan, RRC, Pickett, KE, Waiblinger, D, Uphoff, E, et al. Born in Bradford’s Better Start: an experimental birth cohort study to evaluate the impact of early life interventions. BMC Publ Health 2016; 16: 711. in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

23. Kooijman, MN, Kruithof, CJ, van Duijn, CM, Duijts, L, Franco, OH, van, IMH, et al. The Generation R Study: design and cohort update 2017. Eur J Epidemiol 2016; 31: 1243–64. in Google Scholar PubMed PubMed Central

24. World Health Organization (WHO). Stockholm, Sweden. A Healthy Start in Life. Report on the Global Consultation on Child and Adolescent Health and Development. Stockholm: WHO; 2002.Search in Google Scholar

25. Marmot, M, Bell, R. Fair society, healthy lives. Publ Health 2012; 126: S4–10. in Google Scholar PubMed

26. World Health Organization (WHO). WHO Commission on Social Determinants of Health. Closing the gap in a generation: health equity through action on the social determinants. Geneva: WHO; 2008.Search in Google Scholar

27. Axford, JB, Nick. Giving children a better start in life: from science to policy and practice. J Child Serv 2014;9. in Google Scholar

28. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Australia. 3218.0 - regional population growth, Australia; 2018-19. Available from: in Google Scholar

29. Social Health Atlas of Australia. Western Australia data by population health area; Avaialable from 22 January 2019: in Google Scholar

30. WA Department of Health, Australia. Child and adolescent mental health services. Hillarys community CAMHS. Safety, quality, performance, patient experience and patient outcomes report. Perth: Child and Adolescent Health Services; 2016 – 30 June 2017. 2018.Search in Google Scholar

31. Joondalup Health, Campus., 2018. Annu Rep Perth. 2017–18.Search in Google Scholar

32. McKeon, S, Alexander, EA, Brodaty, H, Ferris, B, Frazer, I, Little, M. Strategic review of health and medical research: final report February 2013. Canberra, Australian: Government Department of Health and Ageing; 2013.Search in Google Scholar

33. Bricker, D, Squires, J, Mounts, L, Potter, L, Nickel, R, Twombly, E, et al. Ages and stages questionnaire. 2nd edn., vol. 2019. Baltimore, USA; 1999.Search in Google Scholar

34. The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Australia. National statement on ethical conduct in human research 2007. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia; 2007 (Updated May 2015).Search in Google Scholar

35. Curnow, D, Cullen, K, McCall, M, Stenhouse, N, Welborn, T. Health and disease in a rural community: a Western Australian study. Aust J Sei 1969; 31: 281–5.Search in Google Scholar

36. Newnham, JP, Evans, SF, Michael, CA, Stanley, FJ, Landau, LI. Effects of frequent ultrasound during pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet 1993; 342: 887–91. in Google Scholar

37. Hagemann, E, Colvin, LJ, Gibson, L, Miller, S, Palmer, D, Srinivas Jois, R, et al. The ORIGINS project. In: Sata, F, Fukuoka, H, Hanson, M, editors, Pre-emptive medicine: public health aspects of developmental origins of health and disease. Singapore: Springer; 2019.10.1007/978-981-13-2194-8_6Search in Google Scholar

Received: 2020-05-10
Accepted: 2020-07-12
Published Online: 2020-08-27
Published in Print: 2020-09-25

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

Downloaded on 6.2.2023 from
Scroll Up Arrow