On Tuesday, February 18th 2014 The Maulds Meaburn Village Institute hosted a very interesting talk by Andrew Trehearne, Head of Communications for UK Biobank, that explained what the UK Biobank is, and how it is expected to revolutionise medical research and thus improve the health of future generations.
The research subjects in this massive ongoing medical monitoring experiment are 503,000 volunteers aged between 40 and 69. The size of the sample population enables scientists to more clearly discover significant trends and factors in their specific research.
We heard that, in scope, the UK Biobank is the single largest and most important medical research project undertaken in this country. Andrew explained that it’s a cutting edge project that crosses traditional boundaries between disciplines, incorporating innovative application of information technology, robotics, cryogenics and genetics, and the data being collected is held securely, but available to serious researchers with approved programmes throughout the whole spectrum of medical research.
Volunteers were initially examined physically in Biobank buildings in major population centres around the country and gave samples of blood and urine for biochemical and genetic study, they also answered life-style related survey questions via a touch-screen system to allow researchers a unique opportunity to conduct cross-referenced research by examining data in a relational fashion that is expected to give interesting insights into behavioural impacts on health over time. Follow up examinations will show change over time. Novel information sharing with the NHS, official registers and overseas Biobanks are an integral part of the project for the shared goal of a win-win result for our population and humanity.
It is all rather remarkable and will hopefully benefit future generations and answer important questions about causal factors of many diseases that are terribly costly both financially and in terms of quality of life.
It was another very good presentation for the MMVI, well-attended and further confirming its reputation as a venue for fascinating and up-to-date informational talks.
For more information please see UK Biobank website at http://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/