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Cymraeg

Improving the health of future generations

10 October 2007

Welsh Assembly Government First Minister Rhodri Morgan has urged the people of Wales to sign up to a world-leading health project based at Cardiff University.

Biobank Cymru is the all-Wales contribution to the UK Biobank project now recruiting in Cardiff to provide a long-term snapshot of their health.

Cardiff is the first assessment centre to open in Wales. 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.

Vice-Chancellor of Cardiff University Dr David Grant said: "As an international centre of medical research and education it is fitting that Cardiff University is participating in this multi-million pound visionary medical project to improve the health of future generations."

Speaking at the launch Rhodri Morgan said: "I’m delighted to launch Biobank Cymru, not least because my recent experience in being treated for a heart condition at the University of Wales hospital really brought home to me how the latest technology and research makes our NHS the best health service in the world.

"But technology doesn’t stand still and health scientists need to continue to build a broader, richer range of data in order to understand more about how we treat such life-threatening conditions.

"I was fortunate that the health service was able to treat me so successfully. Now that Biobank is being launched at Cardiff University, it means a fantastic opportunity for volunteers in Wales to do something positive for the health of the next generations."

Rhodri MorganRhodri Morgan is pictured with healthcare nurse Rizwana Nadeem testing his body mass index (BMI).

Dr John Gallacher in the School of Medicine’s Department of Epidemiology, Statistics and Public Health, is the UK Biobank academic lead in Wales.

He said: "I do hope people will want to be a part of this historic project. We are unable to pay people to participate and, because of the long-term nature of the project, it is unlikely most participants will directly benefit from the research that follows. However, 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."

In building this resource, UK Biobank asks for a small donation of blood and urine and, with participants’ permission, it will track their health over the next 30 years and more. Participants also provide information on their current health and lifestyles and have a number of measurements taken, such as blood pressure, weight, lung function and bone density.

The 90-minute assessment takes place at Cardiff University’s MediCentre, Heath Park Campus, Cardiff, next to the University Hospital of Wales.

Participation is voluntary and by invitation only; most people aged 40-69 living within about a 10 mile radius of Cardiff will be asked if they wish to take part in the months ahead, before the project moves on to other cities and towns in Wales. Participants can withdraw at any time should they wish to do so.

Professor Rory Collins, UK Biobank’s Principal Investigator, said: "UK Biobank is a project of which the whole of Britain can truly be proud. We are talking to lots of British scientists about the ways this resource can help their research and, internationally, advising others who want to set up similar projects in their own countries.

UK Biobank is funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council with further financial support from the Welsh Assembly Government, the Department of Health, the Scottish Executive and the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

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