The Great Leap - Multidisciplinary approaches to health inequalities, 1800-2022

Network description

To this day and age, deep-routed, structural inequalities in health have been one of the most consistent and pressing challenges society has faced. Recent events, such as the COVID19 pandemic highlight the urgent need for new research, insights and action to tackle this challenge for future generations. Embracing the COST Mission, the Great Leap takes a unique, multidisciplinary approach from a historical perspective to gain a greater understanding of the roots and drivers of health inequalities across regions and countries in Europe and beyond. To achieve this mission, the Great Leap creates an international, multidisciplinary network that will bundle expertise, techniques, insights and data to create (1) the first international comparable dataset of individual-level historical cause of death data, (2) innovative analytical tools to analyse it, and (3) insights into how this information can be used in current public health policy and practice.

The network includes a wide range of academic expertise in history, social sciences, life sciences and epidemiology and involves university-, research-, government- and (international) health institutes and organizations, including statistical offices and national archives. The network has deliberately chosen for a balanced gender (52.5% male, 45.5% female, 2% non-binary), ITC (52%) and YRI (51%) representation, and aims to maintain this while expanding its network internationally. By fostering the strengths of this unique, multidisciplinary and diverse network, the Great Leap aims to generate ground-breaking insights into the historical roots and drivers of health inequalities across regions and countries in Europe and beyond.


Subproject 1: inventorying cause of death sources and research questions

Subproject 1 will create an inventory of the available cause of death sources in Europe and
coordinate work related to developing new research questions.

Subproject 2: Methods and tools for standardization, coding and classifying causes of death

Subproject 2 will coordinate activities related to the digitization, standardization and coding of
the causes of death into the ICD10h, and the development of tools to classifying ICD10h-codes into
disease groups. It will do so by developing the existing pilot-project of the ICD10h into a global standard for the coding and classification of historical cause of death data. 

Subproject 3: Creation Analytical tools: computational and visualization tools for the application to new research questions

Subproject 3 will coordinate activities related to sharing, evaluating, and improving analytical tools for analyzing historical cause of death data. It will focus on (1) tool and methods adaptation by ensuring exchange between the fields of demography, epidemiology, and history and (2) by establishing best practices across Europe that could be expanded worldwide. Moreover, the latter will include best practices to move from the current research practice to open science.

Subproject 4: Coordination of training program and Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) for Young Researchers and Innovators (YRIs)

Subproject 4 will coordinate the training program and ensure close collaboration with
international research schools such as the International Max Planck Research School on Population,
Health and Data Science (IMPRS-PHDS) and the European Graduate School for Training in Economic
and Social Historical Research (ESTER). Its main aim is to safeguard that YRIs, from ‘Inclusiveness Target Countries (ITCs)’ in particular, are included in all training activities, and to organize a great variety of training events, ranging from STMTs to MOOCs. The emphasis of most of these activities is on exchanging knowledge and best practices regarding how to study inequalities in health using historical and contemporary individual cause of death information, while at the same time teaching the basic building blocks needed from disciplines such as history, demography and epidemiology. The goal is to turn many of the developed training materials into self-study manuals/courses that will be made available open access to the public to guarantee that also scholars without funding can learn how to use the coding and classification system.

Subproject 5: Communication & Dissemination

Subproject 5 will ensure open access and global communication of the results by creating a dissemination strategy and planning for academic and public outreach activities and output.


7-9 February 2024: Kick-Off WG4-5 in Prague
8-9 February 2024: Kick-Off WG1-3 in Barcelona
28-29 March 2024: Kick-Off Meeting (hybrid)

Management committee members

  • Prof Gentiana Kera (Albania)
  • Prof Enriketa Pandelejmoni (Albania)
  • Prof Isabelle Devos (Belgium)
  • Dr Matea Zajc Petranović (Croatia)
  • Dr Maarten van Wijhe (Denmark)
  • Ms Liili Abuladze (Estonia)
  • Dr Hannaliis Jaadla (Estonia)
  • Dr Jarmo Peltola (Finland)
  • Prof Sakari Saaritsa (Finland)
  • Dr Florian Bonnet (France)
  • Mr Lionel Kesztenbaum (France)
  • Dr Michael Muehlichen (Germany)
  • Dr Kai P. Willführ (Germany)
  • Dr Pavlos Baltas (Greece)
  • Dr Vasilis Gavalas (Greece)
  • Dr Peter Ori (Hungary)
  • Dr Ragnhildur Sigurdardottir (Iceland)
  • Prof Ciara Breathnach (Ireland)
  • Dr Monica O'Mullane (Ireland)
  • Dr Sarit Rashkovits (Israel)
  • Dr Allon Vishkin (Israel)
  • Prof Lucia Pozzi (Italy)
  • Prof Francesco Scalone (Italy)
  • Dr Ieva Libiete (Latvia)
  • Dr Aistis Žalnora (Lithuania)
  • Ms Tatiana Spataru (Moldova)
  • Dr Tim Riswick (Netherlands)
  • Dr Evelien Walhout (Netherlands)
  • Prof Dragan Tevdovski (North Macedonia)
  • Mr Emre Sari (Norway)
  • Prof Hilde Leikny Sommerseth (Norway)
  • Dr Grazyna Liczbinska (Poland)
  • Dr Bartosz Ogórek (Poland)
  • Dr Paulo Teodoro de Matos (Portugal)
  • Dr Isabel Tiago de Oliveira (Portugal)
  • Ms Damjan Bakic (Serbia)
  • Dr Ján Golian (Slovakia)
  • Dr Diego Ramiro-Fariñas (Spain)
  • Dr Elisabeth Engberg (Sweden)
  • Dr Ingrid van Dijk (Sweden)
  • Dr Joel Floris (Switzerland)
  • Dr Kaspar Staub (Switzerland)
  • Prof Gülhan Balsoy (Turkey)
  • Prof Murat Guvenc (Turkey)
  • Mr Hampton Gaddy (United Kingdom)
  • Prof Alice Reid (United Kingdom)


The Great Leap is funded by the European Cooperation in Science and Technology (COST). It is a funding organisation for the creation of research networks, called COST Actions

Poster The Great Leap - Overview of partners


For questions related to content, please contact Grant Holder Scientific Representative Tim Riswick (tim.riswick [at] For other questions, please contact Grant Holder Manager Marieke van Egeraat (marieke.vanegeraat [at]