UK Research and Innovation – Supplementary written evidence (INQ0094)


George MacGinnis and Professor Judith Phillips gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry on Ageing: Science, Technology and Healthy Living on 3rd March 2020. During the session, we committed to providing you with some additional information on the Advancing the Detection of Disease (ADD) Challenge and to clarify one aspect of UKRI’s written evidence.


Please find some further information on both these topics below.


Recruitment for the ADD cohort


UK Biobank is an unparalleled resource of extensive health information from 500000 individuals. However, it is recognised that the cohort is not representative of the general UK population on a variety of sociodemographic, physical, lifestyle and health-related characteristics, with evidence of a ‘healthy volunteer’ selection bias. The ADD challenge is aware of this limitation of UK Biobank.


As such, it will specifically seek to recruit a population representative of the UK population. The ADD project will use multiple complementary recruitment platforms across the UK in an effort to recruit from hard to reach groups and those of strategic importance. In addition, the ADD cohort will be actively monitored to determine whether the active strategy is recruiting a representative subgroup of the UK population. This will enable recruitment routes to be adjusted in real time if it becomes clear that some groups are becoming under represented.


Clarification on written evidence


Regarding question 12 in the terms of reference which asked about inequalities in healthy ageing, the committee requested some clarification on UKRI’s written evidence.


We know that inequalities have a substantial impact on healthier ageing. As such, improving the health and wellbeing of less affluent sectors of society up to the levels of the most privileged groups would go a long way to achieving the Government’s aims, even without further intervention. Action to narrow this gap are needed both at an individual level and a community level, for example through improving accessibility to services.


9 March 2020