UK Biobank is a major national health resource 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. These particpants 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.

UK Biobank is hosted by the University of Manchester and supported by the National Health Service (NHS). It works with researchers from a large number of British universities. The medical research project is a non-profit charity and had initial funding of about £62 million. UK Biobank has had additional funding of £6m for extra baseline measurements (such as the eye measures and saliva samples) and £25m for the next 5 years, 2011-2016 (such as storage of samples, and developing the online access facility that will allow scientists to use the Resource).

UK Biobank’s Principal Investigator and Chief Executive is Rory Collins, who is also British Heart Foundation (BHF) Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at the University of Oxford.

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