Frances C. Rawle
Medical Research Council, UK
This paper describes two parallel DNA sample banking initiatives currently under development in the UK. The biggest and most high profile of these is the proposed UK Biobank, a prospective longitudinal cohort study of 500,000 adults, aged 45 – 69 at recruitment, from across the UK population. This project is a collaboration between the UK Medical Research Council (MRC), the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health. In the other initiative MRC has funded a series of large-scale DNA collections related to specific diseases in which genetic factors are likely to influence disease risk, natural history or response to treatment. These collections vary in design, including sib-pairs, trios and large case-control studies, and will be archived and distributed through the new MRC national DNA banking network to be established in the second half of 2002. Plans for these resources developed from consultations with the UK scientific community, in which the funding bodies sought to identify the key resources needed to facilitate the translation of knowledge of the sequence of the human genome into real benefits for health and health care.
The disease related collections are seen primarily as resources for gene discovery, whereas the focus of the UK Biobank is research to understand the separate and combined effects of genetic, lifestyle and environmental risk factors in the development of disease. The United Kingdom’s genetically diverse population and universal health care system, combined with a strong tradition of research in epidemiology, biostatistics and genetics, makes it a particularly suitable place to develop large collections of human DNA linked to data on health outcomes.
Bartha Maria Knoppers (ed.), Populations and Genetics: Legal and Socio-Ethical Perspectives. ©2003 Koninklijke Brill NV. Printed in the Netherlands.