View all news

Pioneering Bristol study wins national award for enabling scientific discoveries

Press release issued: 27 November 2018

Bristol's Children of the 90s study has been named 'Biobank of the Year' at a ceremony in London.

The pioneering study has been charting the health of 14,500 families from the Bristol area since the early 1990s and is noted for enabling findings that have changed the way we look at diet, exercise, our environment, mental health and parenting.

Samples, clinical assessments and questionnaires have been collected from recruited families throughout their lives and the study makes links to NHS, social care and education records available to researchers all over the world. The biobank, which is managed by the Bioresource Laboratory at the University of Bristol, has collected more than two million samples which include DNA, blood, urine, saliva, placentas, hair, nails and milk teeth. These are made available to researchers for health and social science study.

Now Children of the 90s is building on this resource with new samples from the next generation, investigating new areas for data collection such as social media to create a richer picture of participants’ lives.

Since the start of the study 1800 scientific papers have been published using data gathered at Children of the 90s, over half using data generated from samples in the biobank.

Biobank of the Year is an annual award designed to highlight support for high quality research.

On behalf of the award selection panel, UK Clinical Research Collaboration Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre (UKCRC TDCC) committee member Amanda Gibbon said: “ We were extremely impressed with this outstanding biobank.  In addition to an extensive holding of samples it offers a rich repository of data, giving researchers access to a depth of information which goes beyond the clinical and is drawn from social records such as educational and criminal data.  We also commended the biobank on its commitment to outreach work.  

“They have worked hard to involve their participants and this has no doubt contributed to their success in recruiting the next generation of participants in the biobank’s work. Engagement with other stakeholders such as researchers was also very clear and of a high standard. All in all, a superb application that really fulfilled the award criteria.”

Children of the 90s Head of Laboratories Sue Ring said:

“Children of the 90s is a truly unique resource leading to a huge range of improvements to our health and wellbeing.  The award recognises the quality of our samples and the worldwide research they enable. 

“At the University of Bristol we have a dedicated team who collect, process and store thousands of biological samples and a vast amount of data for the international scientific community. I would particularly like to thank the study families who have donated the samples and provided data time and time again to help us make this huge collection the important resource it is today.”

Principal Investigator for Children of the 90s Professor Nic Timpson added: “The ALSPAC bioresource and the Bristol Bioresource Laboratory that it has initiated is really second to none in the research community. Housing countless samples of multiple format over a span of more than a quarter of a century, this platform has enabled a huge amount of high-quality science and is set to continue to do so. Few other resources are able to offer the flexibility and security of storage seen in Bristol and Sue and her team should receive the highest congratulations for this award.”

For the award the study was asked to provide two case studies to illustrate how it has made an impact on research.  The examples show both how participants can be called back to provide specific samples for a project and how markers in samples can signal health in later life.

 Dr Sarah Bath from the University of Surrey used urine from Children of the 90s women during pregnancy to find that levels of iodine at this time was linked to their child’s IQ and reading ability by the age of nine.  This research led to production of a fact sheet for the public, including pregnant women, which provides advice on how to ensure adequate iodine intake through the diet.

Further information

Based at the University of Bristol, Children of the 90s, also known as the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), is a long-term health-research project that enrolled more than 14,000 pregnant women in 1991 and 1992. It has been following the health and development of the parents (Generation 0; ALSPAC-G0) and their index children (ALSPAC-G1) in detail ever since and is currently recruiting the children of those original children into the study (ALSPAC-G2). It receives core funding from the Medical Research Council, the Wellcome Trust and the University of Bristol. Find out more at

For more information about the awards visit

The UKCRC TDCC works to maximise the use, value and impact of the UK's human sample resources in the UK and beyond. It is guided by the belief that the biomedical research ecosystem should be based on open standards, open-science, and pre-competitive collaboration.

To achieve this, the UKCRC TDCC has focused on helping researchers find samples and data, helping sample resources improve their data systems, and harmonising policy on the discovery and use of samples and data. It is run by a small dedicated team in the University of Nottingham and University College London and was mandated by the UK Clinical Research Collaboration. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter, @biobankingUK.


Edit this page