Cooperation is the key to UK Biobank data shared by world’s geneticists

Thanks to over a half million English men and women, the UK Biobank has an incredible databank of new information linking genes and health for the world’s geneticists to tap into for their researches.

These more than half million Brits have donated their blood, time and the access to their medical records to the UK Biobank and in turn the UK Biobank has become a great resource to over a thousand geneticists, scientist and researchers all over the world who are interested in studying the link between genes, health and behaviors.

Over a decade ago, many Brits donated a blood sample to the biobank as well as giving them the permission to look at their medical records and they have once again been asked to return for medical scans which will help medical researchers connect imagery with health conditions and genes. The imageries will be of the heart and other internal organs as to build up of fat deposits in their arteries and around their organs as well as doing an MRI.

Brits spend at least a half a day at the clinic donating their data to science. 

One participant, Christopher Fletcher, who is 70, recently drove 90 miles to a radiology clinic outside the city of Manchester from his home in Nottingham. Fletcher says that he is in great physical condition and as a 70 year old he has had very little wrong with him and felt he should do some public good by volunteering his health data.

Not only do the half million volunteers like Fletcher make the UK Biobank a valuable entity, but its strategy, among its staff of being scientifically community-spirited working to assist their colleagues all over the world, makes it unique.

UK Biobank’s goal is to provide data for researchers who are short on funding.

UK Biobank’s funders – the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust – provides the means to attain the genotype of over a half million participants.  

The biobank is filled with the genetic variants (genotype) of these half million participants giving scientists the opportunity to look at specific traits or medical conditions and the ability to search for matching genetic patterns.

Using the resources of the UK Biobank helped to discover that Type 1 diabetes was not subject to teens as previously believed but that it was more common and relevant among the middle-aged.

The huge UK Biobank of resources and data allows the world’s scientists to do their research without having to draw a blood sample. And it encourages cooperation rather than competition.