The Top End Cohort (TEC) commenced recruitment in 2007 when non-Indigenous people born in Darwin between 1987-1991 were invited to be part of the Life Course Program. Together with the age matched ABC study, it provides a unique resource to examine the health and wellbeing of young people in the Top End across their life span.
As part of the Life Course Program at Menzies, the main aim of the study is to assess the effect of early life factors, birth and childhood, on later physical and mental health, and to examine which factors influence these across the life course. This study seeks to identify those who are most at risk of developing chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart and kidney disease and mental health problems and assist in targeting interventions.

The TEC study is partnered with the Aboriginal Birth Cohort Study (ABC) study, the largest and longest running Indigenous birth cohort in Australia.


Study name Top End Cohort study
Study abbreviation TEC
Current principal investigator/s A/Prof Gurmeet Singh, Prof Wendy Hoy, Prof James McFarlane, Prof Markus Juonala, Dr Katja Pahkala, Ms Heather D’Antoine, Mr Craig Allen, Dr Marita Hefler
Phone +61 8 8946 8544
Primary Institution Menzies School of Health Research
Major funding sources NHMRC Project Grant (ID 1046391)
Study website
Key reference

Davison, B., Cunningham, T., & Singh, G. (2011). Engaging adolescents and young adults in a longitudinal health study: experience from the Top End cohort. Australian and New Zealand journal of public health35(1), 86-87.

Study focus

The core objective of this prospective study is to examine the effect of early life events and conditions on later health. It is based on the principle that susceptibility to poorer health in adulthood is a dynamic process that begins in utero and continues over the life course.

Our hypothesis is that the nutritional mismatch between prenatal and adult life predicts chronic non-communicable (metabolic, renal, respiratory, cardiovascular and mental) disease risk in young adulthood.

Sampling frame

Adolescents were eligible for enrolment in the study if they were born in Darwin between 1987 and 1991 and currently residing there. Detailed birth data has been obtained retrospectively.

Study location: Participants were in the Top End of the Northern Territory, Australia, between 2007 and 2009.

Year commenced 2007
Intergenerational? Data available
Imaging Yes
Linkage Yes
Biosamples? Yes


Wave Year Age (mean, range) Eligible sample
1 1987 – 1991 (Retrospective) Birth  
2 2007 – 2009 Adolescence: 18.4 (range 16-20) 169
3 2013 – 2015 Adulthood: 23.8 (range 21-27) 117