Plans announced to create new Manchester HQ for UK Biobank

UK Biobank

Plans have been announced to create a new Manchester headquarters of the UK Biobank, a large-scale biomedical database and research resource.

It follows news today (June 15) that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has pledged £481m of investment over the next three years for 23 major infrastructure projects and nine scoping studies to maintain the UK’s position as a science superpower.

As part of this infrastructure funding, UK Biobank, described by UKRI as “one of the most important resources for population health in the world”, will receive £29m over the next three years, and £127.6m from the Infrastructure Fund in total including future funding years.

Subject to business case approval, the UKRI investment will fund the development of:

  • A new Manchester headquarters for UK Biobank alongside the archive and laboratories, working with the University of Manchester to stimulate academic and commercial impact in an area identified by UK Government as becoming a world-leading centre for genomics and data.
  • A new low temperature robotic archive for the UK Biobank’s existing and future collections of biological samples, enabling their safe storage and rapid retrieval for scientific analysis
  • State-of-the-art processing laboratories

Prof Sir Rory Collins, principal investigator and CEO of UK Biobank, said: “We are thrilled with UKRI’s announcement that, subject to final approval, UK Biobank will receive critical funding to replace and enhance its outdated infrastructure with faster, higher capacity and lower energy sample storage.

“This transformative funding will help create a state-of-the-art facility, based in Manchester, and enable UK Biobank to meet the exponential demand from UK and international researchers and unlock further industry investment.”

He added: “UKRI, and the MRC (Medical Research Council), have been long term visionary funders of UK Biobank and we’re grateful to them for their steadfast support and for leading the way in ensuring that UK Biobank can enter its next phase of development and enable new scientific discoveries that improve human health.”

In March, this year, UK Biobank took 10,000 sq ft of office space at Park Square, in Cheadle Heath.

UK Biobank is a large scale biomedical database and research resource, containing in-depth genetic and health information from half a million UK participants.

The database is regularly augmented with additional data and is globally accessible to approved researchers undertaking vital research into the most common and life-threatening diseases.

It is a major contributor to the advancement of modern medicine and treatment and has enabled several scientific discoveries that improve human health.

Around 29,000 researchers from 100 countries already use the UK Biobank resource – 8,000 of which are from the UK – and this is set to grow further over the coming years.

The database is open to all approved researchers across the globe, an example of UK Biobank’s democratising nature, it said.

In the past five years alone, 17 pharmaceutical and data sciences companies have invested £227m in the UK Biobank, growing the resource to support a huge variety of health research across the world.

Support from the UKRI Infrastructure Fund, and the MRC, will enable UK Biobank to respond to the growing appetite from industry to further develop the resource.

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