UK Biobank gets unanimous backing from international experts after piloting phase

UK Biobank the multi-million pound visionary medical project aimed at improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of diseases that kill, disable or cause widespread misery (such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, mental illness, joint disease and many other debilitating conditions) announced (Tuesday 22 August) that it has received the go-ahead to roll out its programme nationwide.

Following a three-month piloting phase in the Manchester area, the final protocol received unanimous backing from a team of international scientific and medical experts, and from the project's funders.

The success of the 3,800-participant piloting phase means that, around the end of this year, letters will start going out to men and women aged 40 to 69, who will be invited to attend one of a network of assessment centres[1] to be set up in locations all around the UK. The aim is to recruit half a million people nearly one percent of the British population over the next four years.

UK Biobank will gather, store and protect a vast bank of medical data and material that will allow researchers to study in depth, in decades to come, how the complex interplay of genes, lifestyle and environment affects our risk of disease. It is the first time that such a project has been attempted in such fine detail on such a vast scale.

The final protocol for the 61m project, which is being funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust, the Department of Health, the Scottish Executive and the North West Regional Development Agency has been subjected to rigorous and detailed scrutiny by an independent International Review Panel set up by the funders.

In its report, the panel concluded that: "UK Biobank has the potential, in ways that are not currently available elsewhere, to support a wide range of research, particularly investigations into complex interactions of various exposures, including genetic

Contact: Margaret Willson
UK Biobank

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