There are now a number of population-based ‘Biobank’ research initiatives around the world, each learning from the other in this emerging and exciting area of scientific endeavour. More are planned.
Some ‘Biobanks’ involve thousands of people, others, like UK Biobank, hundreds of thousands. As a prospective (forward-looking) study, UK Biobank is one of the trailblazers in developing a resource that will measure participants at the start (baseline) and then follow them through their health records for years to come. This provides stronger data on which to build research projects, compared with asking people to remember events in the past, after they have developed disease. Measurements taken after a disease has occurred may also be influenced by the disease itself (for instance, people who have a heart attack may sensibly stop smoking, or be given drugs which lower their cholesterol).
A prestigious line-up of world class researchers meets annually, as the International Scientific Advisory Board, to help guide UK Biobank. UK Biobank is also a member of The Public Population Project in Genomics (P3G), a not-for-profit international consortium to promote collaboration between researchers in the field of population genomics. Scientists from all around the world have visited the UK Biobank headquarters in Stockport and learned first-hand from the project’s experience.
Other important studies include: