Annual Partner Meeting 2013

On February 25th 2013 the first annual DO-HEALTH partner meeting was held at the University of Zurich – Congress Forum Waid City Hospital.  Key partners of DO-HEALTH attended this meeting to discuss the progress of DO-HEALTH.


From left to right — front: Jerra Stemmle (Study MD, Recruitment Centre, University of Zurich), Mariette Fasser (Project Manager, Recruitment Centre, University of Innsbruck), Claire Takizawa  (Health economist, Nestlé), Prof. Heike A. Bischoff-Ferrari (PI and Coordinator DO-HEALTH, University of Zurich), Dr. Eduard Sidelnikov (Epidemiologist, Coordinating Team, University of Zurich), Prof. Lorenz Hofbauer (Partner, University of Dresden), Dr. Åsa Müller (DO-HEALTH Manager, Coordinating  Team, University of Zurich).

From left to right – back: Dr. Sandrine Rival (Management Partner NOVAMEN), Prof. Douglas Bauer (Networking speaker, University of California San Francisco), Benno Gut (Partner gut pictures), Dr. Catia Duarte (Investigator, Recruitment Centre University of Coimbra), Hendrikje Boerst (Project Manager, Recruitment Centre Charité Berlin), Prof. John Kanis (President IOF and partner DO-HEALTH), Prof. Robert Theiler (Exercise Expert, Coordinating Team, University of Zurich and Triemli City Hospital Zurich), Dr. Stephanie Bridenbaugh (Investigator, Recruitment Centre, University of Basel), Michaela Höhne (Partner Nestlé), Dr. Gabi Ambrecht (DEXA Quality Control, Charité Berlin), Dominique Pierroz (IOF), Anita Meier (Project Manager, Recruitment Centre, University of Zurich), Dr. Elisabeth Stöcklin (Partner DSM nutritional products), Prof. Bernhard Watzl (Partner, Max Rubner Institute, Germany), Michelle Schmocker (Adminitrator, Coordinating Team, University of Zurich), Dr. Andreas Egli (Study MD, Coordinating Team, University of Zurich), Prof. José da Silva (Partner, University of Coimbra), Ihuoma Abaze (Monitoring Partner Pharmalys).

Contributions and topics discussed


Prof. John Kanis, President of IOF and DO-HEALTH partner, gave the introductory speech to this first annual partners meeting.  In most cases, Prof. Kanis pointed out, clinical research is focused on individuals at high risk. DO-HEALTH is different, as it enrolls relatively healthy seniors and tests whether three simple interventions can maintain functionality and prevent chronic disease by supporting multi-organ health.  Because the study applies to a large population, even small benefits will have an enormous impact on public health. Therefore DO-HEALTH has “more bang for the buck” potential!


Prof. Douglas Bauer, Prof. of Medicine at the University of California San Francisco, was the invited networking speaker. Prof. Bauer is responsible for fracture adjudication in the US study VITAL testing two of the same interventions as DO-HEALTH (vitamin D and omega-3 fats) in somewhat younger seniors. Prof. Bauer explained that seniors have been excluded from clinical trials systematically and that DO-HEALTH is supported within a pivotal effort by the European Commission to study and improve health at higher age. Prof. Bauer is also a collaborator of TRUST, a study supported within the same framework of the European Commission. TRUST aims to test whether thyroid hormone replacement is beneficial to health of seniors with subclinical thyroid hormone deficiency. For more information on TRUST, visit their website.


The Coordinator and PI of DO-HEALTH, Prof. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari from the University of Zurich, thanked all partners and their teams, and reported that DO-HEALTH made significant progress since its beginning in January 2012, with the preparation of all centers and the central training and certification of all study staff at the coordinating site in Zurich. Four of seven DO-HEALTH centers are actively recruiting as of February 2013 (Universities of Zurich, Innsbruck, Geneva, and Basel — see news item on ”First Participants”) and the first participants enjoy the clinical visit, especially using the tablet computers…and reporting this experience to their grandchildren!  The direct data entry on tablet computers is interactive and easy to operate, an innovation of DO-HEALTH designed by the DO-HEALTH partner Ferrari Data Solutions. Prof. Bischoff-Ferrari also noted that she was careful to listen to the recruitment teams on how the first participants of DO-HEALTH experienced the clinical visit and was happy to hear that the length of the baseline visit going from 8:00 in the morning to between 3:00 and 5:00 in the afternoon has been tolerated well by all participants so far — with regular food breaks, of course!

The biggest challenge according to Prof. Bischoff-Ferrari is getting through all approval steps in the different European Countries. Although DO-HEALTH is testing vitamin D and omega-3 fats, which are dietary supplements, DO-HEALTH needs drug approval in most countries. This is because DO-HEALTH tests disease prevention, or in the case of Germany, because the vitamin D dose in DO-HEALTH is below the safe upper intake recommendation but higher than current recommendations. This involves many additional and laborious steps, and Prof. Bischoff-Ferrari acknowledges the work by the coordinating team at the University of Zurich and the important support by the recruitment site teams, partner DSM Nutritional Products as the producer of the study medication, and the monitoring partner Pharmalys.


Partner gut pictures presented the DO-HEALTH motivational exercise video, which is another technological innovation of DO-HEALTH.  Benno Gut explained the steps going from the exercise program developed and validated by Prof. Robert Theiler and the University of Zurich team, to capturing the DO-HEALTH exercise model in a motion lab, to using this data to build an animated avatar for the video. Benno Gut pointed out that the baseline visit also includes instruction by a physiotherapist to be sure that each participant performs the exercises in a correct and safe way.  The DVD and also a booklet of the exercise are provided to the participant to take home and support their training at home. The video, the partners agree, is a success! It is very clear, language neutral, and supported by motivational music and beautiful nature videos to be enjoyed in the breaks between the individual exercises.


Partner Prof. Lorenz Hofbauer from the University of Dresden talked about novel biomarkers of bone and muscle health and how these will be measured in DO-HEALTH. DO-HEALTH will explore with these biomarkers how muscle and bone interact and communicate. Both optimal bone and muscle health is needed to prevent falls and fractures at higher age.

The site reports were given by Dr. Stephanie Bridenbaugh for the University of Basel, by Mariette Fasser for the University of Innsbruck, by Hendrijke Boerst for the Charité Berlin, by Prof. José da Silva for the University of Coimbra, and by the Prof. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari for the University of Zurich, Geneva and Toulouse:


Dr. Stephanie Bridenbaugh, Investigator, University of Basel


Mariette Fasser, Project Manager, University of Innsbruck


Hendrikje Boerst, Project Manager, Charité Berlin


Prof. José da Silva, Principal Investigator, University of Coimbra

The DO-HEALTH coordinating team, including the DO-HEALTH manager (Dr. Åsa Müller), the DO-HEALTH epidemiologist (Dr. Eduard Sidelnikov) and the DO-HEALTH coordinating study medical doctor (Dr. Andreas Egli) outlined the role of the standard operating procedures that help all centers to perform the clinical visits in a standardized and correct way, updated the partners on the approval state of the different centers, and explained the laboratory procedures, shipment to the coordinating site, and the planned DO-HEALTH biobank at the University of Zurich.

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Dr. Åsa Müller, DO-HEALTH Manager, Coordinating Team, University of Zurich

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Dr. Eduard Sidelnikov, Epidemiologist, Coordinating Team, University of Zurich


Dr. Gabi Ambrecht from the Charité in Berlin reported on the status and procedures of bone density measurement quality control in DO-HEALTH. Of the four centers that measure bone density in DO-HEALTH, quality assessment and certification of staff is complete in three centers (Zurich, Berlin, Coimbra).


Dr. Sandrine Rival (Management Partner NOVAMEN) outlined the first amendment of DO-HEALTH submitted to the European commission in February 2013.

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Dr. Elisabeth Stöcklin (Partner DSM Nutritional Products) described how the study medication was produced and what partners were needed from bulk production of the nutrients to final labelling of the study medication.


Ihuoma Abaze (Monitoring Partner Pharmalys) gave an update on the approval process of the Toulouse and Coimbra recruitment sites and study initiation visits of the 4 recruiting sites.

And a lot was discussed during the coffee breaks:

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PD Norbert Suhm (CO-PI DO-HEALTH Recruitment Site Basel University), Prof. Robert Theiler (Exercise Expert, Coordinating Site DO-HEALTH, University of Zurich), and Prof. Douglas Bauer (Networking Speaker UCSF, USA).

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Prof. Bernhard Watzl (Partner DO-HEALTH, Max Rubert Institute, Karlsruhe, Germany), Prof. Heike Bischoff-Ferrari (PI and Coordinator DO-HEALTH, University of Zurich), and Prof. John Kanis (President IOF and Partner DO-HEALTH).

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Prof. Lorenz Hofbauer (DO-HEALTH Partner, Dresden University), Dr. Gabi Ambrecht (DO-HEALTH bone density quality control, Charité Berlin), and Hendrikje Boerst (Project Manager, DO-HEALTH recruitment site Charité Berlin).

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We thank the photographers: Gilberto Lontro from IOF,  Dr. Andreas Egli, and Roland Brändli, photographer Waid City Hospital. Gilberto Lontro and Dominique Pierroz from IOF performed video interviews with partners:  click here to see the video.