Welcome to UK Biobank

We hope you find the information below helpful. Do, also, look at the Getting started: helpful info page which provides more about how to register and use the resource.

Watch Dr Naomi Allen below outlining the baseline data available and how researchers and scientists can access the resource.

 Click HERE to view webcasts, featuring the presentation synchronized with the slides.

View a copy of the UK Biobank Access Procedures.

During 2006-2010, UK Biobank conducted its recruitment phase of more than 500,000 participants who gave their consent, answered questions, had physical measurements and gave samples (blood, urine and saliva) at a baseline assessment visit. Follow-up of their health is now being conducted through medical and other health-related records. Access systems have been developed to facilitate use of the UK Biobank Resource by bona fide researchers for health-related research that is in the public interest.

UK Biobank has recently updated the Data Showcase to include data about deaths and prevalent and incident cancers. Hospital Episodes Statistics (HES) and data on the repeat assessment of 20,000 participants from the north west of England are also available.

Who can use the UK Biobank Resource?

UK Biobank is an open access resource. The Resource is open to bona fide scientists, undertaking health-related research that is in the public good. Approved scientists from the UK and overseas and from academia, government, charity and commercial companies can use the Resource. Follow this link to find out more about approved research projects so far.

How do scientists access the Resource?

There are 4 steps to using the UK Biobank Resource:

  • Registration: To confirm the identity of each person intending to use the Resource and to check their bona fides before registering them as a potential user;
  • Preliminary application: To allow researchers to determine: (i) whether their proposed research use is likely to be approved; (ii) whether the Resource contains the data and/or samples required for their proposed research; and (iii) the indicative cost of obtaining such data and/or samples (e.g. in preparation for a funding application);
  • Main application: To allow UK Biobank to assess: (i) whether the proposed research use meets the required criteria for access (including legal and ethics standards); (ii) whether the amount of depletable sample required is scientifically justified; and (iii) the cost of providing such data and/or samples;
  • Material Transfer Agreement (MTA): For approved applications, the Material Transfer Agreement will need to be executed and access charges paid before release of data and/or samples to the Approved Researcher.

Scope of access requests

UK Biobank’s approach is to facilitate access to the data within the resource.  UK Biobank’s access criteria is that the UK Biobank resource is available to all bona fide researchers for all types of health related research that it is in the public interest, without preferential or exclusive access to anyone.

The purpose of this note – in response to a number of queries from researchers – is to clarify that UK Biobank does not require the researcher to be undertaking a research project involving the study of a particular health outcome or particular risk factor.  UK Biobank recognises that many research projects may be:

  • agnostic as to any particular health outcome / risk factor (i.e. not hypothesis-driven);
  • involve the study of a range of different genotypes and/or phenotypes (e.g., GWAS +/or eWAS,PheWAS); or
  • methodological in nature (e.g., involved in the development of methods to create derived data-fields that will be of use to others).

UK Biobank welcomes such requests as it makes no distinction based on the type or categorisation of access request as long as the scope of the research project can be objectively defined (a request to study anything that the researcher considers relevant will not be successful).

In any event, these criteria will be used to determine the legitimacy of an access request, and as such (and in light of the above) researchers should feel free to make such applications as they consider appropriate.

UK Biobank would finally note that because of the depletable nature of samples and participant goodwill, applications for samples and re-contact studies will be required to demonstrate explicit scientific value on the basis set out in the Access Procedures and the Re-contact Procedures.

Guidance for researchers applying to access samples

Where possible, UK Biobank will conduct the assays on your behalf. In the situation where samples have to be sent to an external laboratory for measurement, all results should be returned to UK Biobank for incorporation into the Resource, prior to the full dataset being made available to you. (You will have 3 months in which to use this data before we make it available to other researchers). Information about the UK Biobank Biomarker Panel can be found here.

Guidance for researchers applying to access samples

Phased applications (requiring multiple data downloads over time)

It is possible to submit a phased application, whereby you are provided with subsequent data, as and when it becomes available (e.g. health outcome data, biochemistry data, genetic data) for further phases of your research project. The initial application should clearly outline the reason for requesting these data, so that the project can be approved with the release of these future data in mind. You can submit a request for these data-fields, which will be linked to your original research project, via the usual application process.


Costs are based on whether the dataset requires data, bulk items (i.e. data that requires in-situ access), or samples. Following a review of our charging procedure, there is now an initial fee at preliminary application submission, followed by a flat fee for data extraction (for non-bulk data).The UK Biobank charging policy is as follows:

  • £250 + VAT (where applicable) payable upon submission of a preliminary application.
  • £1,500 + VAT (where applicable) per application that requires access to data only.
  • An additional cost of £500 + VAT (where applicable) for access to any bulk data files (includes MRI/ DXA/ carotid ultrasound data available from October 2015,  OCT and fundus images, ECG raw data, HES data, genetic data, built environment data and accelerometer data). Please note that the genetic data includes the genotyping data and the imputed data. These costs are subject to change; as and when more imaging data are acquired costs may be increased. We will update this page once these costs have been finalised
  • £bespoke quote for applications that request access to biological samples.
  • £bespoke quote for re-contact requests.
  • £bespoke quote for particularly time-consuming customisation of data sets.

In order to facilitate and encourage usage of the UK Biobank resource, there are two circumstances in which UK Biobank will consider a reduced access fee for data-only access requests.

The reduced fee is £500 in aggregate (plus VAT) – as compared to the normal fee of £2,000 in aggregate (plus VAT) – payable as to £250 on submission of the preliminary application and £250 on approval of the main application.

The two relevant circumstances which may qualify for the reduced-fee regime are:

1. Applications from bona fide students for the purpose of producing their thesis

  • Applications submitted by a student or their principal supervisor for the sole purpose of producing the student’s thesis (and the resulting paper must be authored by the student);
  • The application cannot be used as a means to conduct research for any other purpose nor can it be used for multiple student (or other) projects;
  • Any collaborators (which are permitted only at UK Biobank’s discretion) must have a clearly articulated and relevant role in the production of the thesis.

2. Applications from applicants who are resident in developing countries

  • Any collaborators (which are permitted only at UK Biobank’s discretion) should also be resident in a low and/or low-middle income country

UK Biobank will keep this reduced-fee regime under regular review to ensure that it is being used appropriately and fairly.

If you consider that you may be eligible for a reduced fee then please contact the access team who can advise you appropriately.


Repeat assessment data

A repeat of the baseline visit was conducted during 2012-2013 in a subset of 20,000 participants residing in the NW England area. By default, data-fields for both the baseline and repeat visit will be provided in your dataset, unless you specify otherwise in your application using the  free text box in part 3 of the main application. Please visit the UK Biobank Data Showcase for more information.

Size of datasets

Measures that were taken multiple times per participant are stored as ‘array’ fields, meaning that the final dataset may contain many more individual data-fields than originally selected. Please ensure you have sufficient computing power for a successful data download (datasets containing just the baseline data can be up to 9 GB). We will inform you of the size of the dataset once you have submitted your main application to use the Resource.

Use of a single genetic dataset

We have received a number of requests from institutions who would like to be able to store a single central genetic dataset, which can be linked a) between collaborators and b) for use on multiple applications from within the same institution.  We support this proposal and going forward, we will release suitable bridging files to enable such linkage to take place.

It would be helpful for our administrative team if, when applying, it could be made as explicit as possible as to the precise linkage required (in terms of the pre-existing genetic dataset and the identities of the collaborators).  For the avoidance of doubt, the same approach to linking datasets between different applications still applies

Return of data

At the end of the project, we request that you return any derived data-fields or other results that are deemed to be of interest to others (following consultation with us as to which fields will be of most interest) so that we can incorporate these results back into the Resource. Find out more here

Publishing your research

You do not need our approval to publish results, although we ask that you provide a copy of any publications and notify us in writing if any results are likely to provoke controversy or attract significant public attention, at least 2 weeks before the expected date of their first public presentation or publication in any format. We ask that you acknowledge that “this research has been conducted using the UK Biobank Resource.” More information about publishing your research can be found here.

UK Biobank endorses the open access policies described by the Wellcome Trust.

How can the most be made out of using the Resource?

Using UK Biobank is an investment in it, since all results and analyses will be put back into UK Biobank for others to benefit from. UK Biobank encourages the formation of consortia or disease-specific user groups, particularly with regard to the use of samples which will deplete over time. Please contact UK Biobank Access Management Team if you have any ideas or suggestions.

Email the Access team

Details of the UK Biobank Access Sub-Committee can be found here.