Imaging project sees its 30,000th volunteer in Stockport

UK Biobank is nearly halfway to its goal of collating 100,000 scans of vital organs to form the world’s largest collection. A Shrewsbury resident became the 30,000th volunteer on Wednesday at the Stockport assessment centre, which supports the work of two other scanning centres. These high quality pictures of hearts, brains, bones and abdomens will be used by scientists to discover why some people develop life-threatening diseases and others do not.

Ms. Lesley Milne, 72, travelled nearly two hours to the assessment centre in greater Manchester. She said:

“Seeing how it’s making huge leaps to improve healthcare for our future generations is the biggest reward anyone could get. I’m so proud to be part of this project!”

Over 38,000 volunteers from Manchester took part in the initial assessment between 2006 and 2013. These participants are being invited for imaging scans of their heart, brain, bones, abdomen and main arteries. Approved scientists use this information to understand how genes, environment and lifestyle choices lead to certain diseases.

Professor Naomi Allen, UK Biobank’s Chief Scientist, said:

“An imaging resource of this scale is unparalleled in the world of health research, and we’re not even halfway through the project. Combining the wealth of information already available from our 500,000 participants – which includes data on lifestyle and genetic factors – with these powerful imaging data will help transform the health of future populations.”

The imaging data allows for a wide range of studies on illnesses like dementia, stroke, heart disease and weakening of the bones and frailty in later life. Researchers will use findings to help discover new ways of treating and preventing these conditions.

“UK Biobank has been truly transformative in the way that research into common diseases is conducted. The breadth and depth of the available data is simply staggering. This accelerates the speed and clinical impact of new discoveries for population benefit… it’s simply amazing!”

Professor Martin Rutter, Professor of Cardiometabolic Medicine and Honorary Consultant Physician at Manchester University

The assessment centres in Newcastle and Reading support the work of the main scanning centre in Stockport which have scanned almost 20,000 participants between them. A new centre in Bristol will be open next year to further support the project.