Using our BioResource

Researchers background image, diagram of scientists

better route to discovery 

The NIHR BioResource has been developed by researchers, for researchers.

Refine by phenotype, refine by genotype, refine your search.

Single consent, single database, single repository.

The NIHR BioResource is a recallable resource of over 250,000 volunteers, with and without health conditions who have agreed to take part in health-related research.

We recruit participants into several participant cohorts including common and rare diseases and across the general population.

We support researchers from industry and academia with:

  • participant recall by genotype or phenotype
  • provision of genetic and/or clinical data
  • stored samples: DNA (blood/saliva), plasma and serum
  • recruitment of volunteers for research studies and early-phase clinical trials.

By screening our participants for genes and/or phenotypes of interest we enable research that would have otherwise proven too costly or time-consuming to happen.

The aim of the NIHR BioResource is to further health research within the UK. We help research organisations with volunteer recruitment, specifically by genotype and/or phenotype.

We offer researchers the chance to select participants for studies based on their genetic make-up or on other characteristics, such as markers in their blood cells.

Our unique panel of participants has enabled researchers from around the world to make significant discoveries.

You can select participants based on defined characteristics, refining your analysis and increasing the chances of success.

There may be some costs involved.

Through the NIHR BioResource, researchers can choose participants based on their genetic make-up or on physical characteristics, such as markers in their blood cells.

This approach to participant selection can deliver advantages in refining a study to focus on the most suitable people. Resources in time and cost are saved in comparison to a broader recruitment strategy which relies on screening activities that the BioResource could otherwise undertake prior to participant enrolment.

For example, in a programme studying a common genetic variant that occurs in approximately 1 in 10 people, researchers would have to recruit about 500 participants to find 50 with the genetic variation of interest.

The NIHR BioResource approach is more time efficient: with 250,000 participants ready to take part, the process of identifying the 50 research-ready volunteers is far simpler and more efficient.

Our effort can be focused on identifying the participants needed for your study. If you submit a request, we can screen genetic or clinical data in advance of participant selection in line with the required criteria.

Consequently, we only invite to take part those people who have the genetic and/or phenotypic prerequisite that is important to your study. Valuable research is now possible into the causes of many diseases that previously would have proven too costly or time-consuming.

Our aim is to make your research more efficient.

The BioResource can support your research by providing clinical and/or genetic data, providing samples of DNA (blood/saliva), plasma or serum or by supporting you to recall our volunteers to take part in your research. Recall can be in the form of providing fresh samples, completing online questionnaires or taking part in a clinical trial.

To find out how to apply for support follow these links:

Apply for data Apply for samples Apply for recall

Our cohorts cover three main areas: common diseases, rare diseases, and general population.  Due to the specialist work needed to support COVID-19 research we also have a dedicated COVID-19 cohort.

Common diseases

Common diseases affect more than 2% of the population, often across age groups. Our national-scale recruitment covers Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD),  Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases (IMID), Mental Health and Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).

Rare diseases

We aim to identify genetic causes of rare diseases, so improving rates of diagnosis, and enabling studies to develop and validate treatments.

We recruit affected participants and their relatives across several disease areas, including infection and immunity, neuroscience, rare cancers and cardiovascular disease. Click here for a full list of our rare diseases.


We have created the DNA, Children + Young People's Health Resource (D-CYPHR), with the aim of getting young people involved in research.

Since most research is carried out in adults, this research will help us understand the origins of disease, which often starts in childhood, as well as identify ways in which to prevent illnesses prior to adulthood.


We have created a special COVID-19 BioResource to support the rapidly expanding research in this field.

Several studies have now been supported and completed.

General population

Anyone with or without a health condition can join our general population cohort. We have over 125,000 general population volunteers made up of generous members of the public who want to help with medical and health research. These volunteers can be used in research looking at specific genes or as controls.

The NIHR BioResource works with researchers from both academia and industry. We have helped support over 300 studies resulting in over 330 publications.

The BioResource already includes a number of patient panels or cohorts, such as patients with IBD, heart conditions and autoimmunity. We would like to collaborate with clinicians who want to enrol patient groups.

If you run a clinic for a common or rare disease condition already on the BioResource panel, and are interested in recruiting patients to the NIHR BioResource, please get in touch. We make enrolling your patients as simple as possible.


How much does it cost?

Costs can be found on our costs page.

Who can apply?

Any researchers can apply, whether you are from industry, academia or a research institute.

How long does the process take? 

The time depends on what you are requesting and when you request it. Applications are reviewed on a quarterly basis and the committees decision is fed back within a week or two of the meeting. Samples are then usually shipped within 3-5 months. Recall studies can start as soon as approval is in place providing the required ethical approval and R&D approvals are in place.

What data do you have?

To find out more about what data we have please read the Apply for Data page.

How can I access samples?

To access samples please see the Apply for samples page. 

What is recall?

Recall is when we contact our panel of volunteers to ask them whether they would be interested in taking part in a particular study, this usually involves providing fresh samples, answering questionnaires or taking part in a clinical trial. 

Can you help with my application?

Yes, for help with your application please email us at

Illustration of people arranged as pie chart to illustrate populations

Our cohorts

Our cohorts cover these main areas: Common Diseases, Rare Diseases and Healthy Populations. Due to the specialist work needed to support COVID research we have a special section for that too.

About our cohorts

BioResource staff using Centrifuge machine for samples.

Our support for you

Are you interested in obtaining NIHR BioResource support for your study? If so, we can assist with the recruitment of volunteers for research studies and we can offer a full study facilitation service. 

Finding study support

How we help

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participants have joined us to help uncover the causes of disease 

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research publications since 2009 supported by the BioResource and our participants

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samples that help researchers in their work to tackle disease

Studies and Publications using the BioResource

We have supported hundreds of studies which have led to significant scientific publications: 

Show me all studies          Show me all publications

Young child holding breathing apparatus over nose and mouth

NIHR BioResource for ill children 

The study shows genetic conditions are frequent in intensively ill children. DNA sequencing might be a first-line diagnostic tool for some intensively ill children. Recruiting families to the Rare Disease BioResource might help with care for patients and their families.  

Read the news story

Crowds of people formed into a DNA helix shape

Genomes and coronavirus

The NIHR BioResource is partnering with GenOMICC and Genomics England and others to study the genetic code of thousands of patients severely ill with coronavirus. The work will indicate whether a person’s genetics may influence their susceptibility to the virus.

Read the news story

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease 

Information on the effects of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD); why further advances are required in the understanding, diagnosis, staging and treatment of this condition and why NAFLD BioResource is one step towards achieving this goal.

NAFLD BioResource

Get in touch

We welcome enquiries:

You can call us on  0800 090 22 33 or email us at

Our 18 centres across England welcome enquiries

Interested in working with us?  See our careers page