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About the BioResource


National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centres (BRC) are based within the most outstanding NHS and University partnerships in the country, and are leaders in scientific translation – taking research at the bench to the bedside. There are now 11 BRCs across the UK and you can read more about them at the NIHR website.

Headquartered in Cambridge the NIHR BioResource is being established around seven of the NIHR BRCs – Cambridge, Newcastle, Imperial, Guy’s and St Thomas’, South London and Maudsley, Oxford, University College London Hospitals, and the Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (BRU). It is an umbrella organisation being established following the success of the Cambridge BioResource (CBR), set up in 2005.

NIHR BioResource – Rare Diseases is also part of this umbrella organisation and has been established to recruit participants with rare diseases, and their relatives. The aim is to drive identification of disease cause, improve rate of diagnosis and to enable studies to develop and validate treatments; thus improving care for those with rare disease and their families.

BioResource Centres

Each BioResource has established groups of healthy volunteers and patients who have provided samples (of blood or saliva) and agreed to be recalled by genotype and phenotype to participate in medical research and trials. For example Leicester has over 2,000 volunteers who have taken part in a study on blood pressure. This group consists of 500 individuals and two adult offspring making it an interesting group for genetic analyses looking at hereditary and familial traits. The Oxford BioResource is being built on the success of the Oxford BioBank, and has over 5,000 healthy volunteers and patient groups.

The aim of BioResource is to build on and integrate existing resources at these seven named centres, and to promote the continued recruitment of volunteers and patients. In future it is hoped that recruitment will extend to additional sites across the whole of England.

Why now?

The Cambridge BioResource set out to provide researchers with volunteers tailor made to their research studies. Studies that were looking at the link between genes, the environment and disease. The first study undertaken in 2007 was very successful and since then demand has grown from researchers to develop the resource. The more people who participate the larger number of genes there are to study – this will improve our knowledge of the genetic basis of many conditions and ultimately improve healthcare for all.

Who will benefit?

Bringing all this data and resource together will benefit both patients and the public; and biomedical researchers in  industry, academia and the NHS.

Research teams will be able to access large numbers of well characterised individuals. This will particularly help with the study of rare diseases where identifying and recruiting particular groups of volunteers and patients can take time.

Patients will benefit too, and as the resource grows having larger numbers of people being able to participate in clinical research and trials of new drugs or treatments will enhance that research. Improved access to research volunteers will ensure that testing can be completed quickly and effectively, making it easier to bring new treatments to market.