On Thursday 20th October, the NIHR BioResource introduced the DNA, Children + Young People’s Health Resource (D-CYPHR) to an audience of almost 200 students, parents, family members, teachers and project partners at a school just outside Birmingham. D-CYPHR aims to combine the DNA, health and lifestyle information, and medical records from young people under the age of 16 to create a vast resource to support physical and mental health research involving genetics. 

St Michael's CE High School pupils and Ayo Akinwolere
St Michael's CE High School pupils and Ayo Akinwolere


The event in late October was a chance to showcase the new programme as it enters the final stage of a pilot phase before a full national launch in 2023. Attendees were invited to give feedback on the project, including the final design for the brand and logo, and help test the new digital sign-up process for young people and their parent/guardians. 

A partner school

St Michael’s CE High School in Rowley Regis has been one of our key pilot schools since the programme was launched as the Young People’s BioResource more than 18 months ago. Along with our partners the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFC), we are so grateful to St Michael’s and their incredible team of teachers, staff and student volunteers for hosting us on the night. 

D-CYPHR launch presentation
D-CYPHR launch presentation

An evening of learning and activities

In addition to being a valuable opportunity for the BioResource to test several aspects of the programme, the evening was also a learning and engagement event packed full of entertainment, activities and information from experts in children’s physical and mental health.  

What took place? 

  • Highly Sprung Theatre Company brought DNA and genetics to life in a dance performance.  
  • Compère for the evening, former Blue Peter and Commonwealth Games presenter Ayo Akinwolere, joined D-CYPHR clinical lead, Dr Anna Moore, on stage in a jam-packed information session on the programme and just how important every volunteer will be and what D-CYPHR will and won’t do with volunteer data to keep it secure.  
  • Professor Tim Barrett, a specialist in paediatric diabetes at Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospital, outlined his experience treating young diabetes patients in greater Birmingham and how genetic research continues to be fundamental to improving patient outcomes.  
  • Via video recording, world-leading child psychiatrist and CEO of AFC, Professor Peter Fonagy, talked guests through the fascinating case of identical twins separated at birth to show how the environment and our genes influence development. 
  • A volunteer from our Eating Disorders Genetics Initiative (EDGI) UK study provided a written account of her journey with anorexia nervosa and we heard from another young volunteer about her mother’s journey with cancer and why taking part in research is so important to her. Everyone has different motivations for taking part, whether that’s living with a condition themselves, a family member or friend who has been impacted, or a desire to contribute to a group effort to advance health research. D-CYPHR is designed to make it easy for young people to play their part.  
  • Guests took part in learning activities in the atrium, with interactive stalls offering DNA and genetics-based fun, including a chance to build a DNA-double helix from gummy-bears.
  • The English Indian food truck served up fantastic hot food and guests of all ages enjoyed science-themed Dragon’s Breath ice-cream from the Whipsmith’s team. 
Ayo Akinwolere and Dr Anna Moore
Ayo Akinwolere and Dr Anna Moore
The Highly Sprung Dancers
The Highly Sprung dancers

Dr Anna Moore said:

"D-CYPHR has been developed with the input of young people and families across the country. The students and staff at St Michael’s had so many wonderful ideas of how to bring DNA to life for their peers and helped us make an amazing event that was as informative as it was fun. We are so excited to capitalise on the enthusiasm of young people to take part in research as we strive to improve the health of this generation and those to come.”

D-CYPHR will finalise its new brand early in 2023 ahead of a national launch to encourage young people to take part in health research.  

The programme is currently open for new volunteers to sign up. If you are a parent or young person aged 9-15 and you’re interested in contributing to health research via the DNA, Children + Young People’s Health Resource, you can find out more on the D-CYPHR webpage and email the team on to join or ask any questions. 

Anyone aged 16 or over can play their part in vital health research too. Find out more about joining the NIHR BioResource today. 

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