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The UK Biobank Exome Sequencing Consortium (UKB-ESC) is a unique private/public partnership between the UK Biobank and eight biopharma companies that will sequence the exomes of all [~]500,000 UK Biobank participants. Here we describe early results from the exome sequence data generated by this consortium for the first [~]200,000 UKB subjects and the key features of this project that enabled the UKB-ESC to come together and generate this data. Exome sequencing data from the first 200,643 UKB enrollees are now accessible to the research community. Approximately 10M variants were observed within the targeted regions, including: 8,086,176 SNPs, 370,958 indels and 1,596,984 multi-allelic variants. Of the [~]8M variants observed, 84.5% are coding variants and include 2,139,318 (25.3%) synonymous, 4,549,694 (53.8%) missense, 453,733 (5.4%) predicted loss-of-function (LOF) variants (initiation codon loss, premature stop codons, stop codon loss, splicing and frameshift variants) affecting at least one coding transcript. This open access data provides a rich resource of coding variants for rare variant genetic studies, and is particularly valuable for drug discovery efforts that utilize rare, functionally consequential variants. Over the past decade, the biopharma industry has increasingly leveraged human genetics as part of their drug discovery and development strategies. This shift was motivated by technical advances that enabled cost-effective human genetics research at scale, the emergence of electronic health records and biobanks, and a maturing understanding of how human genetics can increase the probability of successful drug development. Recognizing the need for large-scale human genetics data to drive drug discovery, and the unique value of the open data access policies and contribution terms of the UK Biobank, the UKB-ESC was formed. This precompetitive collaboration has further strengthened the ties between academia and industry and provided teams an unprecedented opportunity to interact with and learn from the wider research community.

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