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UK Biobank approves 20,000th researcher to access its unique biomedical database and research resource

UK Biobank approves 20,000th researcher to access its unique biomedical database and research resource

UK Biobank has approved its 20,000th researcher – a major milestone for this unique biomedical database and research resource.

The 20,000th researcher is Enrique Cañedo Guerra, a PhD student from the School of Medicine at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). He studies aging and metabolism using statistical modelling and plans to use the UK Biobank resource to develop estimators of biological aging. When asked why he chose to use UK Biobank, Enrique said:

"Because of its ambitious scope, in my opinion, UK Biobank has a unique potential to be used in a variety of ways, some of which we may not even know at the moment. Due to its extensive maintenance and future plans, its value as a resource will surely rise and will provide insights that will be useful for mankind."

Enrique Cañedo Guerra

In the last five years, applications to access the UK Biobank resource have increased 4-fold and come from all over the world. The database is being continuously enhanced, and grows more valuable, as more data are added, whether that’s genetic sequencing, biochemical assay data or imaging – not to mention the return of results from researchers themselves. The use of the database by greater numbers of researchers is yielding significant scientific discoveries in the improvement of human health.

The first mention of UK Biobank in Parliament was almost 20 years ago. The then Health Minister, John Hutton MP, said that:

"Information from the Biobank study could ultimately lead to improved diagnosis, treatment and prevention strategies for…heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's…thus benefiting millions of people in the UK and around the world."

John Hutton MP

Thanks to the 20,000 researchers who use UK Biobank’s resource for scientific discoveries and the selfless commitment of the 500,000 UK Biobank participants who originally gave their samples and health information and continue to contribute even today - UK Biobank has done exactly that.

None of this would have been possible without the Wellcome Trust and Medical Research Council who, 20 years ago, saw the need for such a resource, had the vision and drive to ensure its creation, and has since been its most important and consistent supporters.

In the two decades since, UK Biobank has proven itself to be a unique and invaluable resource and a critical part of the UK’s scientific infrastructure, enabling scientists and researchers to conduct research that is in the public interest and improves human health.