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British Gov't Officially Launches UK Biobank Project; Data Gathering to Take Four Years

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – British health officials yesterday gave the green light to start the UK Biobank project, a voluntary program that aims to influence disease research by creating a database of DNA samples and lifestyle information.

 

The project hopes to obtain DNA and other kinds of information from 500,000 Britons aged 40-69. The resulting database will be available for researchers to study genetic and environmental causes of disease. It is funded by the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust, the Scottish Executive, and the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

 
As GenomeWeb News reported in March, the Biobank invited 3,000 residents of the south Manchester area to take part in a test program. As part of the program, candidates were to spend an hour at an assessment center in the region where they will have been asked questions, provided blood and urine samples, and granted UK Biobank permission to track their health "for many years."
 
An independent panel organized by the funding groups “has now assessed the results of the pilot phase and unanimously agreed that the project should go forward,” according to the UK’s National Health Service.
 
“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 and lifestyle factors in the pathways to disease and health,” the funders said in a statement.
 
Over the next few months the organizers will launch a recruitment phase that will encompass 35 centers in England, Scotland, and Wales that will be open for six months at a time to recruit participants and collect data.
 
The government expects this phase to last between three and four years.
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