Press release

Roger Brownsword appointed Chairman of UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council

Professor Roger Brownsword has been appointed as Chairman of the UK Biobank Ethics and Governance Council. He replaces Professor Graeme Laurie, who finished his four-year term at the end of 2010.

The Ethics and Governance Council (EGC) was established in 2004 as an independent body to advise UK Biobank on rigorous standards of ethical, legal and social consideration, as set out in the project's Ethics and Governance Framework. The Council also reports publicly on the conformance of UK Biobank's activities with the Framework and with the interests of participants and the public.

From September 2003 until his retirement in 2010, Roger Brownsword was Professor of Law at King’s College London. In 2001-02 he acted as a specialist adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Stem Cells and, more recently, to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee for its report on hybrids and chimeras in 2007. He is an Honorary Professor in Law at the University of Sheffield and served as a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics from 2004 to 2010.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Roger Brownsword said: "The EGC has played a key role in building a robust and ethically sensitive governance framework for the operation of UK Biobank. As we enter a new and important phase of the research, it is vital that governance is geared to maintaining the trust and confidence of UK Biobank's stakeholders, not least the trust and confidence of the 500 000 participants. I am looking forward to joining the EGC at this challenging time."

Professor Sir Rory Collins, UK Biobank's Principal Investigator, said: "Professor Brownsword's appointment coincides with a very exciting phase of the UK Biobank project: the completion of recruitment of half a million participants, and the opening of the resource to pioneering health research. His expertise in law and bioethics will be crucial in helping us ensure the resource meets its goal to improve the health of future generations."

UK Biobank is a long-term project to build a resource for research to improve the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness and the promotion of health. The independent Ethics and Governance Council is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council.