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The LOCUS

The «LOCUS for Homocysteine and Related Vitamins» was authorized in 1998 as a result of evaluation of 15 research groups under the Medical Faculty, University of Bergen (UoB). The criteria are
1) a well defined research area,
2) the research activity exploits identifiable local unique resources or expertise,
3) the research area must have a long-term potential,
4) the core staff must comprise at least 5 senior scientists affiliated at UoB, and mainly dedicated to the actual research activity,
5) the research group should have the potential to function for at least 10 years,
6) the group should be localized in a defined area, and
7) documented scientific publications within a restricted and defined area are paramount.

Permanent senior members

Scientists that were members of the group since the establishment include
-Consultant, dr. med. Anne-Lise Bjørke Monsen, Laboratory of Clinical Biochemistry, Haukeland University Hospital.
-Professor, dr.med. Ottar Nygård, Section for Cardiology, Department of Clinical Science.
-Professor, dr.philos. Grethe S. Tell, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care.
-Professor, DrPH. Stein Emil Vollset, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care.
-Professor, dr.med. Per Magne Ueland, Section for Pharmacology, Department of Clinical Science.

Major scientific achievements and projects since 1998

-The EU project "Homocysteine determination in laboratory diagnostics", Biomed contract BMH4-98-3549.
-The EU project "Demonstration of the clinical utility of holotc as an early marker of vitamin B12 deficiency", Biomed contract QLK3-CT-2002-01775.
-Collaboration within The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) (Elio Riboli) to investigate the association of biomarkers of B-vitamin function with colorectal cancer and other malignancies.
-Collaboration with John A. Baron, Dartmouth Medical School, NH, on a project on folic acid and large bowel adenomas.
-Collaboration with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), James L. Mills, on choline status in newborns.
-Several projects on folate metabolism, with John Scott and Anne Molloy, at Trinity College, Dublin.
-Collaboration with the California Birth Defects Monitoring Program, Gary Shaw, Richard Finnell and Henk Blom, on one-carbon metabolism and birth defects.
-The Hordaland Homocysteine Study (Initial data collection 1992-93) and the Hordaland Health Study II (HUSK) (Data collection 1998-99).
-WENBIT (Western Norway B-vitamin Intervention Trial), a secondary intervention trial in patients with cardiovascular disease.
-NORVIT (Norwegian Vitamin Trial), a secondary intervention trial in patients with a history of recent myocardial infarction
-The Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort (MoBa): B-vitamin status and pregnancy outcome
-JANUS cohort: B-vitamin status and cancer.
-NORCCAP (Norwegian Colorectal Cancer Prevention): B-vitamin status and colorectal cancer
-Partner in the project “One-carbon metabolism biomarkers and lung cancer risk” (LC3) funded by National Cancer Institute US.
-Partner in the project “Head & Neck, and Kidney cancer” funded by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF).
-2014-2017: Norwegian PI of EU TRANSCAN: CRC-Metabolome - Metabolomic profiles throughout the continuum of colorectal cancer.

Evaluation by the Research Council of Norway


The Research Council of Norway (RCN) carried during 2010 and 2011 out a comprehensive evaluation of Norwegian research within biology, medicine and health in Norwegian universities, hospitals, relevant university colleges and relevant research institutes. The report on Homocysteine LOCUS is as follows:

The LOCUS demonstrates extensive ability to manage complicated long-term prospective multicentre studies and large cross-sectional studies. There must be a highly skilled project management. The main challenge is really how to maintain this high level and develop it further. Since major faculty is retiring within a number of years, recruitment will be a central issue.
External funding is extensive and international sources contribute substantially, i.e. NIH, EU, National Cancer, Regional Health, and Norwegian Cancer society and RCN. Several large biobanks have been established. Assays have been developed and transferred to routine laboratories.
9 PhD students (8 national, one Russian) completed their study over the last 5 years. Two postdoctoral fellows were recruited from the Netherlands and 1 professor from Germany. Thus the LOCUS has an international profile. A list of 15 projects that involves national and international collaboration is presented. European multicentre studies on cancer and nutrition are a major area. Several international collaborations with other universities are listed.
Previous evaluations have pointed out that the group is unique and at international highly competitive level. Between 25 and 40 papers have been published per year since 2005. By 2010 the 4 senior researchers of the LOCUS have published 620 overall very highly cited papers. The LOCUS maintains a strong focus on research area and combines this with technical innovation and development of assays. This approach has demonstrated to be very productive and innovative.
Societal impact is large with altered recommendations for infant vitamin supply and new information about risk factors for development of cancer and cardiac disease.
Grading: Excellent.