Opinion: Take part in Our Future Health
10 November 2022
Professor David Lomas (UCL Vice-Provost (Health) on an ambitious new health research programme that is inviting UCL students and staff to help prevent diseases and detect them earlier.
Despite advances in healthcare and medicine, large numbers of people in the UK still spend many years of their later life in poor health because of common diseases and health conditions such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and stroke.
Our Future Health is a new research programme, a collaboration between the public, charity and private sectors, that aims to build the UK’s largest health research cohort to improve early detection of chronic diseases. The translation of scientific discovery into actual health benefits makes me believe that this resource could offer tremendous opportunities for health research.
Opportunities for health researchers
The intention is that the programme will provide two key types of resource for health research:
- A prospective observational dataset for basic science/epidemiological, discovery and research on the causes and early signs of disease; and
- A translational research platform comprising a cohort of people who can be re-contacted for translational/implementation research to develop and test new diagnostic technologies, prevention strategies and treatments.
Researchers will be able to use the resource to identify opportunities to:
- detect diseases much earlier
- predict with better accuracy who is at higher risk of diseases
- target treatments, tools and technologies to delay the onset of disease, or change the course of disease progression
- reduce disease risks
- find prevention strategies and treatments
Taking part in the programme
The programme aims to recruit 5 million people, to truly reflect the UK population, including groups of people that have previously been under-represented in health research. People taking part will be asked to provide information about their health and lifestyles and a small sample of their blood. Volunteers will also be asked for permission to combine the information and samples with existing information about them, including their health records. When taken together, the information will create an extremely detailed picture of the nation’s health.
Volunteers also have the opportunity to receive feedback on their own health, including cholesterol and blood pressure checks. By joining the programme, volunteers will have the option in the future to receive further feedback about their risk of disease.
Everyone over 18 in the UK is welcome to join Our Future Health and create one of the most detailed pictures we’ve ever had of people’s health, allowing researchers to develop new ways to detect disease at an earlier stage and identify people who are at higher risk of disease.
Find out more about taking part