A pioneering study into the health of 10,000 babies born in Bradford over the next three years has been given the royal seal of approval.
Infant mortality rates in Bradford are twice the national average
The study into the causes of disease was being officially launched by the Countess of Wessex on Friday.
Bradford was chosen for the research because of its high infant mortality rate and diverse ethnic make-up.
Mothers-to-be will be recruited from November and the first babies for the project will be born in 2007.
Their health will be scrutinised from pregnancy to adulthood by experts at the Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which is carrying out the study.
A parallel study is being planned in Mipur, Pakistan, with the potential to share global knowledge and address some of the major health research questions of the 21st Century.
Miles Scott, chief executive of Bradford Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Illnesses affecting people in later life, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, are thought to be influenced by factors in pregnancy and childhood and we need to learn more to try to prevent these occurring.
"We will track the lives of 10,000 babies born in the city over the next three years from pregnancy, through childhood, until they become adults.
"We will also collect information about their parents at the same time.
"By pinpointing the causes of disease we will have the key to improving not only the health of Bradford people but the health of others around the country and the world."
The Countess of Wessex heads a list of more than 350 guests attending the official launch of the project at the National Museum of Photography, Film and Television in Bradford.