Workshop with UK Biobank

Posted on 7th December 2015

MEDMI recently organised a workshop with the UK Biobank and the NIHR HPRU in Environmental Change and Health titled “Capitalising on the Potential of UK Biobank for Environmental Change, Health and Sustainability Research”. The event took place at the Wellcome Trust in London on 17th November 2015.

The aim of the workshop was to explore, demonstrate and discuss ongoing and future research linking environment and human health with a particular focus on the opportunities presented by the UK Biobank.

There were presentations by UK Biobank and researchers (Dr Jessica Tyrrell, Professor John Gallacher, Dr Susan Hodgson and Dr Nick Osborne) who have all used UK Biobank to look at various aspects of the impact of the environment on health and well-being. (For presentations click here).

This was followed by two panel discussions. The first looked at lessons learned, challenges and opportunities of linking health and environmental data. A number of interesting issues were raised including confidentiality, complications of linking different types of data, ownership of linked data, storage, technical interface and legal issues.

The second panel highlighted the rich and diverse array of environmental data resources that exist with panellists from the Met Office, the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the Environment Agency, Natural Environment Research Council (NERC),the Centre for Environment and Hydrology (CEH) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

The workshop concluded with a session considering the types of research questions that could be answered if these health and environmental data resources can be linked, as well as the need to prioritise the issues that are looked at. The need for multi-disciplinary teams and research was stressed, which draws in policy makers, other stakeholders (including business), as well as the research community. The opportunity of the forthcoming release of environmental data from DEFRA was also highlighted.