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Date: 27 May 2018

Time: 22:28

Image: stethoscope and data

£54 million funding for data science

Story posted/last updated: 12 February 2018

Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) will lead one of six new sites across the UK created to address challenging healthcare issues through use of data science, funded by £30 million from Health Data Research UK.

The University of Birmingham (UoB) and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) will form part of the Midlands site, together with the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham, and Warwick. The other five sites will be based in Cambridge, London, Oxford, Scotland and Wales/Northern Ireland.

Each site has world-class expertise; a track record in using health data to derive new knowledge, scientific discovery and insight; and works in close partnership with NHS bodies and the public to translate research findings into benefits for patients and populations.

From April this year, the six sites will work collaboratively as foundation partners in Health Data Research UK to make game-changing improvements in people’s health by harnessing data science at scale across the UK. 

Each site’s research organisations will receive long-term funding awards and will become part of a collaborative research community working together to deliver the priorities of Health Data Research UK. This initial funding is awarded following a rigorous application process, which included interviews with an international panel of experts.

Professor David Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the UoB and Director of BHP, said: “BHP is proud to be leading the Midlands HDR UK Site which is a collaboration between four Midlands universities and our NHS partners.

“We will pool our regional capabilities and build on the sector-leading digital environment developed by UHB to tackle vital challenges for healthcare that can only be addressed using the unique opportunities emerging from a digital NHS.”

Prof Simon Ball, Director of Digital Healthcare at UHB and Director of the Midlands HDR UK site, said: “The Midlands HDR UK Substantive Site award is hugely exciting, not just for our academic and NHS partners, but also for our patients.

“By bringing together excellence in research and healthcare informatics and data science across Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick, we have a unique opportunity for innovation to improve diagnosis, refine prognosis and personalise treatment for patients regionally and nationally.”

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK, commented: “I am delighted to make the announcement, which marks the start of a unique opportunity for scientists, researchers and clinicians to use their collective expertise to transform the health of the population. 

“The six HDR UK sites, comprising 22 universities, research and NHS organisations, have tremendous individual strengths and will form a solid foundation for our long-term ambition. 

“By working together and with NHS and industry partners to the highest ethical standards, our vision is to harness data science on a national scale. This will unleash the potential for data and technologies to drive breakthroughs in medical research, improving the way we are able to prevent, detect and diagnose diseases like cancer, heart disease and asthma. 

“I am grateful to our funders who recognise the importance of collaboration at scale, and the pivotal contribution of health data research to the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in life sciences, for health and economic benefit.”

This is the first phase of investment to establish Health Data Research UK. A further £24 million will be invested in upcoming activities, including a Future Talent Programme and work to address targeted data research challenges through additional partnership sites.  

Health Data Research UK is committed to the highest ethical standards and will work with experts in public engagement to ensure the public voice is central to its activity. It will work at scale and forge national and international partnerships to deliver:

  • New scientific discovery
  • A vibrant training environment for the next generation of data scientists
  • The creation of a trustworthy UK-wide research and innovation ecosystem for health data research.

Health Data Research UK is a joint investment co-ordinated by the Medical Research Council, working in partnership with:

  • British Heart Foundation
  • National Institute for Health Research
  • Economic and Social Research Council
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
  • Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government)
  • Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland)
  • Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates
  • Wellcome
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