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UK Biobank Partners With EGA to Distribute Data From Genomics Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The UK Biobank announced today that it has partnered with the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) to distribute genomic data from a four-year initiative that gathered DNA samples from 500,000 individuals.

The project ran from 2006 to 2010 and collected blood, urine, and saliva samples from half a million people from the UK between the ages of 40 and 69. Participants also provided lifestyle information and agreed to let the biobank integrate information from their electronic health records, resulting in a large collection of datasets that are being made available to approved researchers.

The UK Biobank is handling the distribution of phenotype data from the project, and has now signed on the EGA — a public repository established by the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) and Barcelona, Spain-based Center for Genomic Regulation (CRG) — to offer the genetic information.

According to the UK Biobank, once an approved researcher has downloaded both types of data, they can match them up locally to create or boost the control dataset for their experiment — a process that prevents project participants from being identified.

"This is an incredible resource for researchers around the world who are studying human disease," Jordi Rambla, EGA team leader at the CRG, said in a statement. "By partnering with the EGA, the UK Biobank can make the data available through robust community-agreed standards and practices."

"The 500,000 UK BioBank participants have already revolutionised research into health and disease by participating in this ground-breaking study," Ewan Birney, director of EMBL-EBI, added. "By having the entire genotype data present across the entire cohort, and accessible to researchers in a secure, well-managed scheme, the UK BioBank will become a bedrock of our understanding of health and disease in humans."