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Helping future generations

22 February 2008

Biobank Cymru, a multi-million pound visionary medical project based at Cardiff University, has welcomed the 10,000th participant to the study in Wales.

Cardiff is the first assessment centre to open in Wales, launched at the University by the First Minister in October 2007. Researchers in the School of Medicine have taken a lead in shaping the national project. The University also hosts UK Biobank’s national Participant Resource Centre - a free telephone information line.

Ms Audrey Hirst of Dinas Powys said she was motivated to join the pioneering health research project because it would help in the prevention of serious diseases. She said: "I very much believe in preventive medicine and health promotion. I would encourage people to participate. It was a very interesting experience for me; I was impressed with the efficiency of the assessment process and the staff who were very pleasant and welcoming."

So far more than 70,000 people in Wales, Scotland and England have joined UK Biobank. UK Biobank is building a rich health resource for scientists and doctors in the future to help them understand why some people develop particular diseases - such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, dementia and arthritis - and others do not.

Dr John Gallacher in the School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health, is the UK Biobank academic lead in Wales. Earlier in the week he spoke about the project’s success in Wales to an audience of Assembly Members and researchers. The briefing is the latest in a series of presentations by University experts, designed to help inform policy making at the Assembly.

Dr Gallacher said: "There is a tremendous feel-good factor in taking part and knowing that you are contributing to the better health for all in future generations. We are very grateful to all those people who have gone out of their way to help improve the health of future generations."

The response to letters inviting people to take part has been particularly positive in Cardiff - with many more people agreeing to participate than was expected. Dr Tim Sprosen, UK Biobank Chief Scientist, said: "The response in Cardiff has been terrific. UK Biobank will continue to recruit in Cardiff for the next three months."