Image: Erica P. Johnson

The UK Biobank aims to recruit 500,000 people for population studies of the interactions among lifestyle, genes, and disease, but some opponents question whether the massive effort is structured properly to do an adequate and ethical job. Ian Gibson (Labour, Norwich North), chair of the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology, is to host a meeting in December of members of parliament and the project's funding bodies and critics. UK Biobank has yet to be discussed by the full select committee.

The idea for UK Biobank originated in 1997 when the Wellcome Trust was considering how best to turn the human genome sequencing efforts into medical benefits. Among the ideas: to use the resources of the National Health Service to recruit a statistically significant group of people aged between 45 and 69 (the period during which many diseases with multiple causes begin to...

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