Biobank unveils comms chief as opening looms

UK Biobank has hired its first head of comms ahead of its official launch next year. Andrew Trehearne will join the not-for-profit medical research body in December with a remit to help it recruit 500,000 volunteers.

He joins from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), where he has been head of education and comms for three years.

The Biobank project will encourage the public to donate blood and urine samples at mobile research centres. The project, which aims to be ‘the world's biggest resource for the study of the role of nature and nurture in health and disease', completed a pilot project earlier this year.

Trehearne said Biobank intended to run 30 campaigns across the UK over the next five years, and his job would be to plan regional media drives explaining the project.

‘Initially the comms department will just be me, but one of my first tasks will be to decide whether to [build a team] or hire local external PR support,' he said.

Trehearne reports to Biobank chief executive Professor Rory Collins.

WCRF is now recruiting for a head of media relations and head of education. Interviews for the first role are planned for December. The postholder will be responsible for planning WCRF's global report on nutrition, lifestyle and cancer prevention next year.

Biobank's PR has been handled by MW Communications - led by Margaret Wilson, a former PR chief at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund - since March (PRWeek, 24 March). Wilson said the agency provided general comms advice ahead of Trehearne's appointment.

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