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From Code to Cure: Latest UK Biobank Release of Whole Genome Sequence Data from 500,000 Participants Launches New Era in Medical Research

Medical researchers around the world can now study whole genome sequencing data of half a million individuals together with proteomic data, whole body imaging scans, and a treasure trove of additional information on their health and lifestyle. 




Five years and 350,000 hours of genome sequencing in the making, the highly anticipated whole genome sequencing (WGS) data release by the UK Biobank has now been accessed by more than 300 research teams in the first two weeks alone. 




Data from the UK Biobank has already been used in more than 9,000 peer-reviewed papers, and has led to several big medical discoveries, including: 

The hope is that the addition of so much WGS data will further accelerate drug discovery and development, as well as precision medicine. With a sample size of half a million people, and data collected on more than 10,000 variables (such as blood pressure, cognitive function, diet, and bone density), the data delivered through UK Biobank Research Analysis Platform (UKB-RAP) could help drive tailored healthcare. 

In a recent press release on the milestone, David Reese, Executive Vice President of R&D at Amgen, said "This groundbreaking dataset allows scientists to explore how genetics affects levels of proteins, metabolites, and other physiological factors, more closely than ever before, promising to accelerate our understanding of the genetic underpinnings of disease.” Amgen is one of four pharmaceutical companies that helped fund the initiative, alongside UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Trust.david-reese-amgen

Here at DNAnexus, we are proud to partner with UK Biobank to enable the global research community to access and analyze resources from this ambitious project. DNAnexus built the (UKB-RAP)to scale along with the growing datasets in both size and complexity. Today, the UKB-RAP holds more than 30 petabytes of biomedical information. 

The protected cloud environment is also designed to meet the most rigorous standards for data quality, security, privacy, and safety. The platform proactively manages local, regional, and international compliance requirements, in order to protect participants’ confidentiality while maximizing the opportunity to help researchers access and collaborate on this valuable data. 

More than 5,800 users worldwide, including researchers from academic, commercial, government, and charitable settings, are now harnessing the UKB-RAP to enable scientific discoveries that improve human health.

Eugene Gardner of the University of Cambridge has been pleased with what he’s seen so far.

“By making all of the data available on the cloud through DNAnexus, I can readily scale my computing needs based on my current analysis. The support team recruited by DNAnexus thas been incredibly responsive. I look forward to using and watching the UKB-RAP grow over the coming years.” said 

Built by DNAnexus and enabled by Amazon Web Services, the UKB-RAP provides a valuable library of tools for analyzing genomic, proteomic, imaging, and clinical data. Approved UK Biobank researchers can also combine these various data types for multi-modal analysis based on their specific project needs.

With the ability to share data, tools, and storage power in the cloud, the secure and scalable UKB-RAP has democratized access to this valuable dataset, enabling UK Biobank researchers around the world to access and analyze this groundbreaking new WGS data. 

UKB-RAP users can access the data now and visit our FAQ before getting started. Users can also follow along with our large-scale analysis tutorial to learn how to work efficiently on the platform.



DNAnexus CEO Thomas Laur summarized the recent milestone by saying “The team at UK Biobank continues to set the standard for future global health research projects. We are proud to be a part of this collaborative approach that will enable scientists to better understand, treat, and eventually cure many of the world’s most devastating diseases.”





Read our collection of
UKB-RAP Researcher Spotlights and learn more about how we help build and grow influential biomedical research communities.

About DNAnexus

DNAnexus the leader in biomedical informatics and data management, has created the global network for genomics and other biomedical data, operating in 33 countries including North America, Europe, China, Australia, South America, and Africa. The secure, scalable, and collaborative DNAnexus Platform helps thousands of researchers across a spectrum of industries — biopharmaceutical, bioagricultural, sequencing services, clinical diagnostics, government, and research consortia — accelerate their genomics programs.

The DNAnexus team is made up of experts in computational biology and cloud computing who work with organizations to tackle some of the most exciting opportunities in human health, making it easier—and in many cases feasible—to work with genomic data. With DNAnexus, organizations can stay a step ahead in leveraging genomics to achieve their goals. The future of human health is in genomics. DNAnexus brings it all together.