Welcome to the biobank

March 30, 2012

A million blood and urine samples are stored in the UK Biobank (credit: Wellcome Images)

Anyone interested in combing through 20 terabytes of data on more than half a million aging Brits will have their chance beginning today, when the UK Biobank throws open its databanks to researchers, Nature News Blog reports.

The bank should help scientists to identify the genetic and environmental causes of diabetes, obesity, cancer, depression and many other diseases, based on testing of more than 500,000 participants aged 40–69.

The aim is collect a gigantic set of baseline biomedical data, and then track the participants through follow-up questionnaires and through the United Kingdom’s National Health Service.