Introduction to the imaging study
UK Biobank has embarked on a study to MRI image, or scan, 100,000 participants. The proposed imaging is safe and painless and it will allow scientists to study vital organs, such as the brain and heart, as well as surrounding tissue and bones. Scientists will be able to see how the structure and function of organs are related to the development of disease. The combination of these pictures with the other information we have gathered from you will help scientists study a wide range of disabling, painful and life-threatening diseases. It will make a huge contribution to the health of future generations.
Nothing quite like this has ever been done before. Indeed, UK Biobank is already the most detailed study of its kind ever undertaken, and adding data from imaging scans to the information already collected from questionnaires, physical measures, samples and health records, will create a resource of major global importance.
Where is the imaging done?
UK Biobank has funding to open three centres, and the challenge has been to locate them in places that provide the greatest coverage of all participants, bearing in mind travelling distances and volunteer numbers. After considerable discussion and detailed modelling we settled on Newcastle, Stockport and Reading.
We realise that that means they may not be as easily accessible for everyone (for which we are very sorry) but the demand to be as cost-effective as possible for this expensive enhancement project is crucial in getting it rolled out. We have looked at re-locating imaging assessment centres once they have finished in one area, which is what we were able to do with our original assessment centres, but unfortunately this also is too expensive.
We will cover travel expenses to attend an imaging centre, and those of a companion if you have a disability. The imaging assessment takes about 4 hours to complete, so there will be food and drink available and the environment will be quiet and relaxed.
Confirming your appointment
We will be inviting participants to be scanned over the next five years or so. Invites are currently by email (so please do keep your email contact details up to date!). On receiving an invitation, and if you wish to attend, you will need to call the UK Biobank Participant Resource Centre to book your visit. Staff will ask you a series of questions to ensure that you are eligible to be scanned. While all of these scans are safe and painless, some medical conditions can interfere with the scanning procedure and may mean that you are unable to take part. For example, because the MRI scans involve the use of a magnet, you will not be able to take part if you have any metal or electrical implant, or if you’ve had an accident where metal may have entered your body.If you have had surgery recently, you won’t be able to take part until six weeks after your operation. Some medical conditions can make it difficult to conduct scans, but we have a telephone screening process in place and staff at the Participant Resource Centre can go through all the details with you when you phone to book your visit.
When you arrive at the imaging assessment centre, we will ask you the same questions again so that we can be sure nothing has changed and that you are still able to take part. We will then ask for your written consent to participate as we did when you came for the original assessment.
If you have received an invitation to be scanned and would like to take part please call 0800-0-276-276 (Monday to Saturday, 8am to 7pm) to speak to a member of the Participant Resource Centre team.
We very much hope that participants will take part in this imaging project, and we look forward to seeing you soon.