Despite ongoing criticisms, Britain's much-anticipated UK Biobank finally began recruiting participants this week, some nine years after the idea for the project was first proposed by the Wellcome Trust. "I'm aware of uninformed criticism of the study, but not of informed criticism," Biobank's principal investigator Rory Collins said at a press conference this week. "I believe there is very strong scientific support for a very large prospective study like this one."The £61 million study -- funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council, the Department of Health and the Scottish Executive -- is designed to allow researchers to probe the complex interplay between genes, environment, and disease in half a million people, but has been dogged by controversy from its earliest days. As far back as 2002, for example, politician Ian Gibson challenged the basis of the project, saying in a parliamentary debate that "it seems like dubious methodology...

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