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UK researchers looking for 0.5 million volunteers

15th March 2006

British researchers are set to undertake the world's largest study of environmental and genetic causes of disease.

UK Biobank is hoping to enlist the help of half a million people in advancing research in to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of a number of conditions, including heart disease, cancer, dementia and diabetes.

An initial 3,000 people are being enlisted in Cheshire with a further half a million Britons, aged between 40 and 69, to follow over the next three years.

Those taking part in the study will have blood, urine and DNA samples taken from them, which will be used in conjunction with regular check ups to monitor the progress of the volunteers.

"In ten, 20, or 30 years time we'll be able to confirm or refute various theories about how some diseases are caused," head researcher Professor Rory Collins told the BBC.

"We'll be able to identify new ways of identifying diseases and preventing them."

Some critics to the project claim that the logistics of tracking factors such as exercise and diet in such a large number of people will make the study superficial at best.