UK Biobank (core renewal)

Lead Research Organisation: UK Biobank

Abstract

UK Biobank is a prospective study of 500,000 men and women aged 40-69 years at the point of recruitment (2006-10). The study has collected extensive phenotypic and genotypic detail about its participants, including data from questionnaires, physical measures, sample assays, accelerometry, imaging, genome-wide genotyping and long-term longitudinal follow-up for a wide range of health-related outcomes. The resource is available to academic or commercial researchers world-wide to use for any type of health-related research that is in the public interest. It has been established primarily for the conduct of prospective studies investigating the relevance of a wide range of exposures to health outcomes that occur during long-term follow-up. From 2017 onwards, the identification and adjudication of increasing numbers of incident cases of the commoner conditions in the resource will support extensive and powerful research into their determinants and the range of diseases that can be studied reliably will widen as the numbers of incident events of different types increase during follow-up over the next 5-10 year period.

Technical Summary

The UK Biobank resource has been established primarily for the conduct of prospective studies investigating the relevance of a wide range of exposures to health outcomes that occur during long-term follow-up. By 2022, there will start to be sufficient numbers of incident cases of the commoner conditions to support extensive and powerful research into their determinants (although research related to conditions present at baseline has already started).

Hence, the chief emphasis for the past 5 years has been on preparing UK Biobank for effective use as a prospective resource by the widest possible range of researchers. This activity has included: developing resource access management systems; conducting repeat assessments in 20,000 participants; establishing record linkage for death, cancer and hospitalisation; piloting large-scale characterisation of commoner conditions; enhancing participant phenotyping; preparing for imaging assessments; and turning biological samples into genotypic and biomarker data to make the resource more accessible to researchers studying a wide range of different conditions.

During the next few years, it is intended to: extend cohort-wide record linkage to primary care health records and conduct direct participant follow-up (e.g. for cognitive function); further develop and implement large-scale identification and characterisation of many different types of health outcome; streamline the research access systems, and improve methods for processing, presenting and providing linked healthcare data to researchers; conduct imaging assessments in 100,000 participants; develop and implement further enhancements (such as cardiac monitoring and further sample collection and assays); and make increasing amounts of genotype and biomarker data available. Efforts will also be made to ensure that researchers from around the world are suitably well informed about these developments so that use of the resource increases substantially over the next few years.

Publications

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Atkins JL (2019) Impact of Low Cardiovascular Risk Profiles on Geriatric Outcomes: Evidence From 421,000 Participants in Two Cohorts. in The journals of gerontology. Series A, Biological sciences and medical sciences