UK Biobank is a landmark cohort of more than 500,000 adults, providing an unparalleled opportunity to understand the determinants of health and wellbeing and to improve the health of the population. Direct assessments and linkage to health and mortality outcomes together form a powerful resource, encompassing clinical, lifestyle, sociodemographic, physiological, imaging and genetic data.

Our UK Biobank research investigates health-related traits, risk factors and outcomes in a range of complex conditions. Since 2013, we have produced a growing body of evidence at the interface between mental and physical health, and have returned new derived data to enhance the resource for use by others. Professor Jill Pell is part of the UK Biobank steering committee and Professor Daniel Smith is a co-chair of the UK Biobank Mental Health Genetics Group.

Mental health

UK Biobank provides rich information about psychiatric disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder, as well as psychological traits and experiences of distress and adversity across the population. Our research aims to: elucidate the basis of core psychological symptoms and traits and their relevance to wellbeing; understand the interface between physical and mental health; and explore the implications of these findings for the development of stratified medicine.

Key papers

Ward, J. et al. (2019) The genomic basis of mood instability: identification of 46 loci in 363,705 UK Biobank participants, genetic correlation with psychiatric disorders, and association with gene expression and function. Molecular Psychiatry, (doi:10.1038/s41380-019-0439-8) (Early Online Publication)

Morris, J. et al. (2019) Genetic variation in CADM2 as a link between psychological traits and obesity. Scientific Reports, 9, 7339. (doi:10.1038/s41598-019-43861-9) (PMID:31089183)

Strawbridge, R. J. et al. (2019) Identification of novel genome-wide associations for suicidality in UK Biobank, genetic correlation with psychiatric disorders and polygenic association with completed suicide. EBioMedicine, (doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2019.02.005) (PMID:30745170)

Ward, J. et al. (2018) Polygenic risk scores for major depressive disorder and neuroticism as predictors of antidepressant response: meta-analysis of three treatment cohorts. PLoS ONE, 13(9), e0203896. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0203896) (PMID:30240446) (PMCID:PMC6150505)

Strawbridge, R. et al. (2018) Genetics of self-reported risk-taking behaviour, trans-ethnic consistency and relevance to brain gene expression. Translational Psychiatry, 8, 178. (doi:10.1038/s41398-018-0236-1) (PMID:30181555)

Strawbridge, R. J. et al. (2018) Genome-wide analysis of self-reported risk-taking behaviour and cross-disorder genetic correlations in the UK Biobank cohort. Translational Psychiatry, 8, 39. (doi:10.1038/s41398-017-0079-1) (PMID:29391395) (PMCID:PMC5804026)

Ward, J. et al. (2017) Genome-wide analysis in UK Biobank identifies four loci associated with mood instability and genetic correlation with major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder and schizophrenia. Translational Psychiatry, 7, 1264. (doi:10.1038/s41398-017-0012-7) (PMID:29187730) (PMCID:PMC5802589)

Smith, D.J. et al. (2016) Genome-wide analysis of over 106 000 individuals identifies 9 neuroticism-associated loci. Molecular Psychiatry, 21(6), pp. 749-757. (doi:10.1038/mp.2016.49) (PMID:27067015)

Smith, D. et al. (2013) Prevalence and characteristics of probable major depression and bipolar disorder within UK Biobank: cross-sectional study of 172,751 participants. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e75362. 24282498. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075362) (PMID:PMC3839907)


Cognitive function

UK Biobank participants completed tests of thinking, speed and memory, allowing us to understand how cognitive function is determined by multiple genetic and non-genetic factors, and how these complex processes change in the context of ageing and disease.

Key papers

Cullen, B. , Smith, D. J. , Deary, I. J., Pell, J. P. , Keyes, K. M. and Evans, J. J. (2019) Understanding cognitive impairment in mood disorders: mediation analyses in the UK Biobank Cohort. British Journal of Psychiatry, (Accepted for Publication)

Lyall, L. M., Cullen, B., Lyall, D. M., Leighton, S. P., Siebert, S., Smith, D. J. and Cavanagh, J. (2019) The associations between self-reported depression, self-reported chronic inflammatory conditions and cognitive abilities in UK Biobank. European Psychiatry, (Accepted for Publication)

Lyall, D. M. et al. (2019) Assessing for interaction between APOE e4, sex and lifestyle on cognitive abilities. Neurology, (Accepted for Publication)

Cullen, B., Newby, D., Lee, D., Lyall, D. M., Nevado-Holgado, A. J., Evans, J. J., Pell, J. P., Lovestone, S. and Cavanagh, J. (2018) Cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses of outdoor air pollution exposure and cognitive function in UK Biobank. Scientific Reports, 8, 12089. (doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30568-6) (PMID:30108252)

Cullen, B. , Smith, D.J., Deary, I.J., Evans, J.J. and Pell, J.P. (2017) The 'cognitive footprint' of psychiatric and neurological conditions: cross-sectional study in the UK Biobank cohort. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 135(6), pp. 593-605. (doi:10.1111/acps.12733) (PMID:28387438)

Lyall, D. M., Celis-Morales, C. A., Anderson, J., Gill, J. M.R., Mackay, D. F., McIntosh, A. M., Smith, D. J., Deary, I. J., Sattar, N. and Pell, J. P. (2017) Associations between single and multiple cardiometabolic diseases and cognitive abilities in 474 129 UK Biobank participants. European Heart Journal, 38(8), pp. 577-583. (doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehw528) (PMID:28363219)

Lyall, D. M. et al. (2016) Alzheimer disease genetic risk factor APOE e4, and cognitive abilities in 111,739 UK Biobank participants. Age and Ageing, 45(4), pp. 511-517. (doi:10.1093/ageing/afw068) (PMID:27103599)

Lyall, D. M. et al. (2016) Cognitive test scores in UK Biobank: data reduction in 480,416 participants and longitudinal stability in 20,346 participants. PLoS ONE, 11(4), e0154222. (doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0154222) (PMID:27110937)

Cullen, B. et al. (2015) Cognitive function and lifetime features of depression and bipolar disorder in a large population sample: Cross-sectional study of 143,828 UK Biobank participants. European Psychiatry, 30(8), pp. 950-958. (doi:10.1016/j.eurpsy.2015.08.006) (PMID:26647871)


Cardiometabolic health

There is a wealth of data on risk factors for cardiometabolic disease available within UK Biobank and our focus to date has been on the interface between mental and physical health. In the future we aim to integrate genetic and imaging data to study cardiometabolic health outcomes.

Key papers

Morris, J. et al. (2019) Genetic variation in CADM2 as a link between psychological traits and obesity. Scientific Reports, 9, 7339. (doi:10.1038/s41598-019-43861-9) (PMID:31089183)

Lyall, D. M. et al. (2019) Association between APOE e4 and white matter hyperintensity volume, but not total brain volume or white matter integrity. Brain Imaging and Behavior, (Accepted for Publication)

Lyall, D. M. et al. (2017) Association of body mass index with cardiometabolic disease in the UK Biobank: a Mendelian randomization study. JAMA Cardiology, 2(8), pp. 882-889. (doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.5804) (PMID:28678979)

Lyall, D. M., Celis-Morales, C. A., Anderson, J., Gill, J. M.R., Mackay, D. F., McIntosh, A. M., Smith, D. J., Deary, I. J., Sattar, N. and Pell, J. P. (2017) Associations between single and multiple cardiometabolic diseases and cognitive abilities in 474 129 UK Biobank participants. European Heart Journal, 38(8), pp. 577-583. (doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehw528) (PMID:28363219)

Anderson, J.J., Celis, C.A., Mackay, D.F., Iliodromiti, S., Lyall, D.M., Sattar, N., Gill, J.M.R. and Pell, J.P. (2016) Adiposity among 132 479 UK Biobank participants; contribution of sugar intake vs other macronutrients. International Journal of Epidemiology, (doi:10.1093/ije/dyw173) (PMID:27407038)

Martin, D. J. et al. (2016) Cardiometabolic disease and features of depression and bipolar disorder: population-based, cross-sectional study. British Journal of Psychiatry, 208(4), pp. 343-351. (doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.114.157784) (PMID:26795427)


Multimorbidity & treatment burden

We are interested in chronic illness, especially multimorbidity (presence of two or more chronic conditions). Our aim is to determine the extent and patterns of morbidity reporting and treatment use, and to investigate the impact of comorbidity and multimorbidity on healthcare outcomes and on the treatment burden that people experience. We will also investigate prognostic factors and the specific impact of having chronic pain and/or depression on individuals with chronic illness. This research will investigate reporting of chronic illness, including heart disease, stroke, COPD, arthritis, osteoporosis, and depression, all of which are priorities for UK Biobank; and examine treatment and outcomes for people with multiple conditions, taking into account sociodemographic and other factors. We will examine causal pathways and prognostic factors, and this will allow us to gain a better understanding of multimorbidity and to consider potential management and treatment approaches for individuals with multimorbidity.

Key papers

Johnston, K. J. A., Adams, M. J., Nicholl, B. I., Ward, J., Strawbridge, R., Ferguson, A., McIntosh, A., Bailey, M. E. S. and Smith, D. J. (2019) Genome-wide association study of multisite chronic pain in UK Biobank. PLoS Genetics, 15(6), e1008164. (doi:10.1371/journal. pgen.1008164) (PMID:31194737)

Jani, B. D., Hanlon, P., Nicholl, B. I., McQueenie, R., Gallacher, K. I., Lee, D. and Mair, F. S. (2019) Relationship between multimorbidity, demographic factors and mortality: findings from the UK Biobank Cohort. BMC Medicine, 17, 74. (doi:10.1186/s12916-019-1305-x) (PMID:30967141) (PMCID:PMC6456941

Foster, H. M. E., Celis-Morales, C. A., Nicholl, B. I., Petermann, F., Pell, J. P., Gill, J. M. R., O'Donnell, C. A. and Mair, F. S. (2018) The effect of socioeconomic deprivation on the association between an extended measurement of unhealthy lifestyle factors and health outcomes: a prospective analysis of the UK Biobank cohort. Lancet Public Health, (doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30200-7) (Early Online Publication)

Hanlon, P. , Nicholl, B. I. , Jani, B. D. , Lee, D., McQueenie, R. and Mair, F. S. (2018) Frailty and pre-frailty in middle-aged and older adults and its association with multimorbidity and mortality: a prospective analysis of 493,737 UK Biobank participants. Lancet Public Health, 3(7), e323-e332. (doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(18)30091-4) (PMID:29908859) (PMCID:PMC6028743)

Gallacher, K. I. , McQueenie, R., Nicholl, B. , Jani, B. D. , Lee, D. and Mair, F. S. (2018) Risk factors and mortality associated with multimorbidity in people with stroke or transient ischaemic attack: a study of 8,751 UK Biobank participants. Journal of Comorbidity, 8(1), pp. 1-8. (doi:10.15256/joc.2018.8.129)

Hanlon, P. , Nicholl, B. I. , Jani, B. D. , McQueenie, R., Lee, D., Gallacher, K. I. and Mair, F. S. (2018) Examining patterns of multimorbidity, polypharmacy and risk of adverse drug reactions in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: a cross-sectional UK Biobank study. BMJ Open, 8(1), e018404. (doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018404) (PMID:29332840) (PMCID:PMC5781016)

Jani, B. D. , Nicholl, B. I. , McQueenie, R., Connelly, D. T., Hanlon, P. , Gallacher, K. I. , Lee, D. and Mair, F. S. (2017) Multimorbidity and co-morbidity in atrial fibrillation and effects on survival: findings from UK Biobank cohort. Europace, (doi:10.1093/europace/eux322) (PMID:29112751)

Nicholl, B. I. et al. (2014) Chronic multisite pain in major depression and bipolar disorder: cross-sectional study of 149,611 participants in UK Biobank. BMC Psychiatry, 14, 350. (doi:10.1186/s12888-014-0350-4) (PMID:25490859) (PMCID:PMC4297369)


Circadian rhythms & sleep

Analysing circadian function measures derived from the accelerometry data in UK Biobank (100,000 participants) is a major focus of our work - for example, to conduct genome-wide association studies of circadian rhythms and to investigate relationships with mental health and cognitive function.

Key papers

Ferguson, A. et al. (2018) Genome-wide association study of circadian rhythmicity in 71,500 UK Biobank participants and polygenic association with mood instability. EBioMedicine, 35, pp. 279-287. (doi:10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.08.004) (PMID:30120083) (PMCID:PMC6154782)

Lyall, L. M. et al. (2018) Association of disrupted circadian rhythmicity with mood disorders, subjective wellbeing, and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study of 91 105 participants from the UK Biobank. Lancet Psychiatry, 5(6), pp. 507-514. (doi:10.1016/S2215-0366(18)30139-1) (PMID:29776774)

Lyall, L. M. et al. (2018) Seasonality of depressive symptoms in women but not in men: a cross-sectional study in the UK Biobank cohort. Journal of Affective Disorders, 229, pp. 296-305. (doi:10.1016/j.jad.2017.12.106) (PMID:29329063)

Wyse, C. A. et al. (2017) Adverse metabolic and mental health outcomes associated with shiftwork in a population-based study of 277 168 workers in UK biobank. Annals of Medicine, (doi:10.1080/07853890.2017.1292045) (PMID:28166415)


Data outputs from our research

Here you can find data outputs relating to our research publications.

Johnston, K., Adams, M. J., Nicholl, B. , Ward, J., Strawbridge, R. , Ferguson, A., McIntosh, A. M., Bailey, M. and Smith, D. (2019) Genome-wide association summary statistics for a genome-wide association study of multisite chronic pain. [Data Collection]