Centre at the UK Biobank Annual meeting

UKCRC TDCC at UK Biobank annual meeting

On the 13th June the UKCRC Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre attended the first annual meeting of UK Biobank. UK Biobank is one of the larger Biobanks in the UK with 500,000 participants enrolled. The event coincided with the 10 year anniversary of the UK Biobank and celebrated the various achievements of the initiative.

The event kicked off with a panel discussion of UK Biobank participants, chaired by Fergus Wash (BBC). The topics included the different motivations people had to get involved, including: interest, family history of disease and a desire to contribute to current research. Relevant issues such as the ethics of tissue donation were also discussed. Baroness Helene Hayman also gave a background on the importance of the UK Ethics & Governance Council stating: “Trust takes a very long time to build up, and no time at all to destroy”.

The first session covered topics as diverse as Physical exercise –measured with the use of accelerometers (Dr Soren Brage, University of Cambridge) to cognition and mental Health. Prof Paul Foster (UCL) introduced the UK biobank eye consortium and the importance of vision to our health, including exciting research on the use of retinal scans to detect cognitive decline.

JimmyHighlights of the imaging session included some illuminating MRI body scans presented by Prof Jimmy Bell (University of Westminster) – organ volumes can be estimated from these scans, as well as estimates of obesity and metabolic risks. Professor Mark Jenkinson (University of Oxford) presented his groups work on brain scanning, featuring an innovative video illustration of the UKBiobank Brain scanning resource.

The afternoon saw an interesting talk on the implications of potentially serious incidental findings, including emotional and financial costs. The logistics of linking the Biobank with existing healthcare data was discussed by Prof Cathie Sudlow (UK Biobank). Dr Naomi Allen (UK Biobank) explained the many reasons for storing tumour tissue, including to research the molecular causes of cancer. Plans for the future, such as the screening of blood samples for infection history, were also revealed.

Genetic diversityDr Clare Bycroft (University of Oxford) summarised the diverse nature of the participants in the genetics session and a link between weight and income was presented by Dr Jess Tyrrell (University of Exeter). The influence of genetics on COPD and Autoimmunity was also explained. The final panel discussion bought the day to a close with some comments on how to measure the impact of the initiative.

UK Biobank is an excellent example of the power data and tissue samples can have when they are shared within the scientific community. If you want to find out more about donating, registering or locating tissue samples please contact us.