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European '1+ Million Genomes' Initiative

The 1+ Million Genomes (1+MG) initiative has the potential to improve disease prevention, allow for more personalised treatments and support groundbreaking research.

What is the 1+MG flagship initiative?

The EU’s flagship '1+ Million Genomes' (1+MG) initiative aims to enable secure access to genomics and the corresponding clinical data across Europe to support groundbreaking research and health policy making and incentivise personalised healthcare treatments with the potential to improve disease prevention. This is one of the world’s biggest projects on genomics and contributes chiefly to setting global standards in this domain.

Genomics has become increasingly important globally. The European Union places a strong emphasis on citizen-focused and patient-friendly genomic collaboration and research. As part of this commitment, the EU ensures that the highest standards are applied to the usage, access, and storage of genomic data. The 1+ Million Genomes (1+MG) initiative, one of the world’s largest projects in this field, plays a pivotal role in setting global standards. Furthermore, its connection to the European Health Data Space will provide an additional boost to the information potential benefitting researchers, healthcare professionals and, eventually, every citizens.

On April 10, 2018, during the 2018's Digital Day event, 25 EU countries, along with the UK and Norway, signed the Member States’ declaration aimed at strengthening efforts to establish a European data infrastructure for genomic data and implementing common national rules enabling federated data access. The initiative forms part of the EU’s agenda for the Digital Transformation of Health and Care and is aligned with the goals of the European Health Data Space.

What is the benefit for EU citizens?

Genomics has the potential to revolutionise healthcare in many ways. It can lead to the development of more targeted personalised medicines, therapies and interventions. It can also enable better diagnostics, boost prevention and make more efficient use of scarce resources. From cancer to rare diseases to neurodiseases and prevention, genomics can greatly improve health conditions of EU citizens.

Equally important, genomics has the potential to improve the effectiveness, accessibility, sustainability, and resilience of health systems in the European Union.

Personalised medicine aims to offer customised prevention and treatment approaches for individual patients. Although a universally agreed-upon definition has not been established, the 2015 EU Council Conclusions outlined personalised medicine as: “A medical model using characterisation of individuals’ phenotypes and genotypes (e.g. molecular profiling, medical imaging, lifestyle data) for tailoring the right therapeutic strategy for the right person at the right time, and/or to determine the predisposition to disease and/or to deliver timely and targeted prevention”.

What are the objectives?

The signatory countries have formulated the 1+MG main objectives: 

To formalise and facilitate the cooperation and coordination at strategic level, the Commission created the 1+MG Group, a special group of signatory countries’ representatives. Its 12 specialised working groups gather national experts to define specifications and formulate guidelines for implementing the objectives of the 1+MG Declaration. The group is co-chaired by the Commission (DG CNECT) and an EU country representative (currently Finland). 

Implementation of the Declaration: the 1+MG roadmap

The signatory countries decided to implement the 1+MG initiative along a two-staged Roadmap (2018-2022 and 2023-2027) detailing their activities across four dimensions: governance, trust framework, infrastructure and data.


Implementation of the 1+MG declaration and the roadmaps spanning from 2018 to 2027.  The timeline is divided into two main phases: Design & Testing Phase: This phase occurs from 2018 to 2022. Scale-Up & Sustainability Phase: This phase spans from 2022 to 2027. Key focus areas are highlighted, and they include: Governance: During the design and testing phase, there’s a focus on cooperation and coordination. In the scale-up and sustainability phase, the emphasis shifts to implementation and sustainability. Trust Framework: Initially, there’s stocktaking and design related to the trust framework. Later, there’s a commitment and implementation phase. Infrastructure: In the early stages, requirements and proof-of-concept are addressed. As the project progresses, deployment and scaling-up become crucial. Data: Initially, there’s stocktaking, facilitated access, and local sequencing. Later, harmonization, federated access, and local sequencing with a global perspective come into play. The years 2018, 2022, and 2027 are highlighted on the timeline.

In the first phase, the Horizon 2020 project ‘Beyond 1 Million Genomes’(B1MG) supported and coordinated on the operational level the implementation of the Roadmap. It facilitated an agreement on infrastructure setup, legal and technical guidance, data standards, requirements, and best practices to enable data access (as detailed in the Main Outcomes and Deliverables section). Additionally, B1MG extended its focus beyond the initiative itself, aiming to create a sustainable data sharing infrastructure. This infrastructure will enhance disease understanding for scientists, support personalized medicine for clinicians, benefit patients, improve healthcare system efficiency, and contribute to the European economy.

The main outcomes and deliverables of the first phase of the 1+MG initiative (see Main outcomes and deliverables section below) are presented in the 1+MG Framework website established by the B1MG project. This repository consolidates the recommendations, guidelines, and EU experts best practices, with the aim of fulfilling the Initiative’s vision of ensuring secure access to genomics and health data across Europe.

In November 2022, the Genomic Data Infrastructure (GDI) project, co-funded under the Digital Europe programme, was launched marking the beginning of the scale-up and sustainability phase of the 1+MG initiative. GDI is the main vehicle for infrastructural implementation, by establishing a decentralised data infrastructure for genomic and clinical data access across Europe. This enables distributed learning for various use cases, provides for data access governance and sustainable coordination mechanisms, but also contributes to improving the inter-operability of genomic and clinical data for access. The project is also designing and implementing a comprehensive communication strategy aiming to inform citizens and foster their trust, which is crucial for the initiative’s success.

On 14 November 2023, the 1+MG Group endorsed the Roadmap 2023-2027 (.pdf) for the second phase of the initiative (Scale-up and sustainability phase), specifying activities for implementing common recommendations and guidance. An Executive summary of the Roadmap (.pdf) is also available. It includes establishing and initial operation of a technical infrastructure with research pilots for clinical cases, the generation of additional quality data, the creation of national coordination mechanisms, and the connection of this infrastructure with the EHDS and other pertinent EU initiatives.

This important step is bringing Europe closer to reaching the goal of enabling secure access to genomic data across borders to advance research and personalised care in Europe. By 2024, at least six EU countries will have implemented common specifications and will be able to manage genomic data access. By 2026, 15 countries will have an operational infrastructure in place.

Genome of Europe

The Genome of Europe is a big multi-country project co-funded under the Digital Europe programme, to be launched in 2024. It will bring together European countries to build a high-quality European network of national genomic reference cohorts, representative of the European population. It will contribute to the objectives of the 1+MG Declaration and work closely with the EU-funded projects implementing it.

All countries involved will generate - via whole genome sequencing - a national genomic reference dataset based on their own national population, including both healthy and diseased individuals, according to the jointly established ‘1+MG-ready’ guidelines. Each country’s dataset will form a unique national reference collection in its own right. Collectively, cross-linked via the 1+MG Genomic Data Infrastructure, the national collections will establish a world-class European reference data resource: The Genome of Europe. This database will include data of at least 100.000 citizens, for medical research and innovation, personalised approaches in healthcare and disease prevention measures. Expected to bring major efficiencies due to economies of scale, the Genome of Europe will also ensure consistent application of the agreed common data requirements and quality measures across all national datasets. 

Main outcomes and deliverables

General information:

Technical infrastructure:

Legal, ethical and governance aspects:

Data integration and quality:

Healthcare implementation:

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