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Cymraeg

UK Biobank reaches landmark figure in Wales

14 April 2008

A retired fire service employee has become the 100,000th person to join UK Biobank - the pioneering medical project to improve the health of future generations.

The landmark moment fell to Mrs Pam Jones of Llys Illtyd, Creigiau, Cardiff, who will receive a commemorative plaque from the Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan, First Minister for Wales to mark the achievement. Cardiff University's Dean of Medicine Professor David Wynford-Thomas will also present tickets to an operatic gala performance by singers from the Cardiff International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University.

Researchers at Cardiff University have taken a lead in shaping the national project. More than 13,000 people have joined the ambitious health initiative from the Cardiff area so far, where the response to the letters of invitation to take part in the project has been consistently high.

The project, also recruiting in six other towns and cities in the UK, is now well on the way to its target of 500,000 participants by the end of 2010.

In congratulating Mrs Jones, the First Minister who is one of the 100,000 who have joined UK Biobank, said: "Biobank is a great opportunity for volunteers to do something positive for the health of future generations. To reach 100,000 participants in just a year is a fantastic example of partnership between citizens and researchers.

"Although there is no major personal gain for participants, the results of this study will have benefits for the health of future generations. Technology doesn’t stand still. Health scientists need to continue to build a broader, richer range of data in order to understand more about how we treat life-threatening conditions such as cancer or heart disease."

Cardiff University’s Vice-Chancellor, Dr David Grant, said: "As an international centre of medical research and education, Cardiff University is proud to be part of the success of this visionary medical project to improve the health of future generations."

Mrs Jones and her husband Aelfryn were motivated to join UK Biobank because the project will help to improve the health of future generations. "Both my husband and I have lost our parents to heart disease or cancer. It seemed to us that if we could play our part in helping to prevent these diseases in the future then we should do it."

UK Biobank began recruiting participants in Manchester in April 2007, and opened its assessment centre at Cardiff University’s MediCentre last October. The most detailed study of its kind, the ambitious project is building a major health resource to help scientists and doctors find out why some people get particular diseases such as cancer, heart and lung disease and dementia, and others do not. The work will pave the way for better prevention and treatment of disease and improved public health for many years to come.

The project collects detailed health and lifestyle information from participants, and asks for a donation of blood and urine and for permission to follow their health over the next 30 years and more.

Over the past year the project has stored more than 1.5 million samples of blood in sub-zero temperatures and written to more than 1 million people in England, Scotland and Wales to ask them to participate.

The project’s Participant Resource Centre, a free phone information line (8am-7pm, six days a week), based at Cardiff University, has taken more than 177,000 telephone calls and received double that number of postal replies over the past year.

Ends

Notes to Editors:

1. PHOTO OPPORTUNITY 11am, Wednesday 16 April 2008: The First Minister, Rt Hon Rhodri Morgan, meets the 100,000th person to join UK Biobank/ Biobanc Cymru, a world-leading medical project to improve the health of future generations. Held at: Biobanc Cymru, Cardiff Medicentre, Cardiff University Heath Hospital, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4XW. Photos can also be requested from the University’s Public Relations Office: 029 20874499. There will be an opportunity to talk to the 100,000th participant and interview the First Minister. Media will also be able to tour the assessment centre.

2. Mrs Jones was presented with a commemorative cartoon drawn by Robert Duncan, who specialises in cartoons for advertising. He has produced over 3,000 greeting card designs, including the famous Not Particularly Orange range. She also received tickets to an Operatic Gala performance (April 26) by students of the Cardiff International Academy of Voice at Cardiff University. www.cardiff.ac.uk/ciav

3. UK Biobank is the most detailed study of its kind ever undertaken in the UK. The £60 million project is building a major health resource to help scientists and doctors find out why some people get particular diseases such as cancer, heart and lung disease and dementia, and others do not. The work will pave the way for better prevention and treatment of disease and improved public health for many years to come. http://www.ukbiobank.ac.uk/

4. Cardiff University
Cardiff University is recognised in independent government assessments as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research universities. It is also ranked as one of the world’s top 100 universities by the Times Higher Education (THE).
2008 marks the 125th anniversary of Cardiff University having been founded by Royal Charter in 1883. Today the University combines impressive modern facilities and a dynamic approach to teaching and research. The University’s breadth of expertise in research and research-led teaching encompasses: the humanities; the natural, physical, health, life and social sciences; engineering and technology; preparation for a wide range of professions; and a longstanding commitment to lifelong learning.
Cardiff is a member of the Russell Group of the UK’s leading research universities.
Visit the University website at: www.cardiff.ac.uk

Further Information:

Andrew Trehearne, UK Biobank, Tel: 01865 743960, Mobile: 0789-404-2600
Emma Darling, Public Relations, Cardiff University, Tel: 02920-874499, Email: DarlingEL@cardiff.ac.uk
Non Jones, Welsh Assembly Government, Tel: 02920-898683
Mrs Pam Jones, Llys Illtyd, Creigiau, Cardiff, 02920 892465