Healthcare: On the Agenda - Biobank data to help researchers

In a nutshell

Medical data from half a million Britons is now available to researchers for the next 30 years under the UK's most comprehensive health study. The UK Biobank aims to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions including cancer and heart disease by comparing lifestyles and genetic makeup.

About the Biobank

The online databank contains anonymous information from people aged 40 to 69. It includes a data bank of blood, urine and saliva, height, weight, BMI, grip strength, bone density, lung function, blood pressure and memory, as well as diet, exercise and social factors such as family life and childhood experiences. The database has been opened to researchers to help pinpoint possible relationships between these factors and determine why some people develop certain diseases in middle age and some do not. Scientists are obliged to publish their findings and add their results to the database.

PR strategy

The Biobank's head of comms, Andrew Trehearne, spoke at the Science Media Centre, an independent science comms service based at the Wellcome Trust HQ in London, a funder of the project. They co-organised a media briefing that was attended by science publications, national press and broadcasters.

Media coverage

The story was covered by the BBC, The Guardian, the Financial Times, Channel 4 News and Reuters, as well as The Lancet. The story was widely discussed on Twitter.

£93m - Amount of Biobank funding from set-up to 2016*

1,000 - Number of items of information stored about each volunteer*

*Source: Biobank.

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