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Government funds health data research hubs

13/09/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Health Data Research UK has announced the creation of seven new data hubs to support research on healthcare across the UK.

Stethoscope on computer keyboard

The national institute for health data science said the move is aimed to speeding up access to pioneering treatments, medicines and technologies, and will use new tech to connect and analyse health data.

It said the potential benefits to patients include earlier diagnosis, the development of more effective treatments and more efficient management of the health service.

The creation of the hubs is being funded as part of the Government’s four-year £37 million Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund led by UK Research and Innovation.

Each of them was selected in an open competition by an independent panel involving patient and public representatives.  The criteria included the potential for impact, innovative uses of data, plans for involving patients and the public, and the value for public funding.

Professor Andrew Morris, director of Health Data Research UK, said: “The UK is home to some of the world’s leading researchers and innovators who have historically struggled to access large scale data about people’s health. 

“Creating these hubs and the wider secure infrastructure will, for the first time, give researchers the opportunity to use data at scale to research the genetic, lifestyle and social factors behind many familiar common diseases and identify revealing data trends which may help with finding cures or treatments. 

“With a clear focus on data security, safety and public involvement, this is an important and exciting next step in the UK’s health data proposition and builds on the fantastic strengths we have across our health service, universities and industry.”  

NHS DigiTrial

NHS Digital is to run the hub for clinical trials, named NHS DigiTrial, along with the University of Oxford, Microsoft and IBM. It will be aimed at changing the way clinical trials are delivered, providing foundation services to determine whether a trial is feasible and supporting the planning and delivery.

It will use data assets within the NHS with the Nuffield Department of Population Health at the University of Oxford providing clinical and trial leadership.

Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive officer of NHS Digital, said: “Our new NHS DigiTrial Hub will enable us to strengthen our support for academic and research communities and life sciences partners in the extraordinary and vital work they do to develop new treatments.”

The others six hubs are:

  • DATA-Can for using clinical data on cancer, led by UCLPartners;

  • Insight, which will use anonymised large scale data to uncover insights into eye health, led by University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust;

  • G.I. Know under Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to explore inflammatory bowel disease;

  • Pioneer for acute care, led by the University of Birmingham and taking in information from sources such as community health, hospitals and ambulance services;

  • Breathe, led by the University of Edinburgh for research into respiratory conditions;

  • and Discover-NOW, led by Imperial College Health Partners, for using real world evidence in researching diagnoses and treatments of disease.

Health Data Research UK said that overall more than 100 organisations from the NHS, academia, charities, the technology industry and pharmaceutical companies are involved in the hubs.

Image by iStock, Berekin Health

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