What Happens When 500,000 DNAs Are Put Online.
UK Biobank was established by the Wellcome Trust medical charity, Medical Research Council, Department of Health, Scottish Government and the Northwest Regional Development Agency. It has also had funding from the Welsh Government, British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Diabetes UK. UK Biobank is supported by the National Health Service (NHS). UK Biobank is open to bona fide researchers anywhere in the world, including those funded by academia and industry. UK Biobank is a registered charity in its own right, with the aim of improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a wide range of serious and life-threatening illnesses – including cancer, heart diseases, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, eye disorders, depression, and forms of dementia. UK Biobank recruited 500,000 people aged between 40-69 years in 2006-2010 from across the country to take part in this project. They have undergone measures, provided blood, urine and saliva samples for future analysis, detailed information about themselves and agreed to have their health followed. Over many years this will build into a powerful resource to help scientists discover why some people develop particular diseases and others do not. A programme of online questionnaires is being rolled out (diet, cognitive function, work history and digestive health) and UK Biobank has embarked on a major study to scan (image) 100,000 participants (brain, heart, abdomen, bones & carotid artery). UK Biobank is linking to a wide range of electronic health records (cancer, death, hospital episodes, general practice), and is developing algorithms to accurately identify diseases and their sub-sets. Blood biochemistry is being analysed (such as hormones & cholesterol). Genotyping has been undertaken on all 500,000 participants and these data are being used in health research.
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