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Imaging in population science: cardiovascular magnetic resonance in 100,000 participants of UK Biobank - rationale, challenges and approaches

Steffen E Petersen1*, Paul M Matthews23, Fabian Bamberg4, David A Bluemke5, Jane M Francis6, Matthias G Friedrich7, Paul Leeson6, Eike Nagel8, Sven Plein9, Frank E Rademakers10, Alistair A Young11, Steve Garratt12, Tim Peakman12, Jonathan Sellors12, Rory Collins12 and Stefan Neubauer6

Author Affiliations

1 Centre Lead for Advanced Cardiovascular Imaging, William Harvey Research Institute, NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit at Barts, The London Chest Hospital, Bonner Road, London E2 9JX, UK

2 Division of Brain Sciences, Department of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK

3 GlaxoSmithKline Research and Development, Ltd, Munich, Germany

4 Department of Radiology, Ludwig-Maximilians University Munich, Munich, Germany

5 Radiology and Imaging Sciences, NIH Clinical Center, Oxford, UK

6 Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

7 Montreal Heart Institute, Université de Montréal and University of Calgary, Calgary, Canada

8 King’s College London British Heart Foundation Centre of Excellence; National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ (NHS)Foundation Trust; Wellcome Trust and Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Medical Engineering Centre; Division of Imaging Sciences; The Rayne Institute, St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, UK

9 Multidisciplinary Cardiovascular Research Centre & Leeds Institute of Genetics, Health and Therapeutics, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

10 University Hospitals Leuven, Leuven, KU, Belgium

11 Department of Anatomy with Radiology, University of Auckland, Auckland, UK

12 UK Biobank, Spectrum Way, Adswood, Stockport, Cheshire SK3 0SA, UK

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Journal of Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance 2013, 15:46  doi:10.1186/1532-429X-15-46

Published: 28 May 2013


UK Biobank is a prospective cohort study with 500,000 participants aged 40 to 69. Recently an enhanced imaging study received funding. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) will be part of a multi-organ, multi-modality imaging visit in 3–4 dedicated UK Biobank imaging centres that will acquire and store imaging data from 100,000 participants (subject to successful piloting). In each of UK Biobank’s dedicated bespoke imaging centres, it is proposed that 15–20 participants will undergo a 2 to 3 hour visit per day, seven days a week over a period of 5–6 years. The imaging modalities will include brain MRI at 3 Tesla, CMR and abdominal MRI at 1.5 Tesla, carotid ultrasound and DEXA scans using carefully selected protocols. We reviewed the rationale, challenges and proposed approaches for concise phenotyping using CMR on such a large scale. Here, we discuss the benefits of this imaging study and review existing and planned population based cardiovascular imaging in prospective cohort studies. We will evaluate the CMR protocol, feasibility, process optimisation and costs. Procedures for incidental findings, quality control and data processing and analysis are also presented. As is the case for all other data in the UK Biobank resource, this database of images and related information will be made available through UK Biobank’s Access Procedures to researchers (irrespective of their country of origin and whether they are academic or commercial) for health-related research that is in the public interest.

Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Prospective cohort study; Population-based study; Nested-case control study; Biobank