The project got its name from Umeå, a city in northern Sweden, where the project started in 1988. Umeå is called the city of birch trees. Betula is latin for birch tree. The participants of the project have was tested, interviewed and examined medically at six occasions (1988-1990, 1993-1995, 1998-2000, 2003-2005, 2008-2010 and 2013-2014). In 2005 the project was appointed as one of ten leading research environments in Sweden.
Betula is part of the national project NEAR (National E-infrastructure for Aging Research), www.near-aging.se