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Health Data Research UK is awarding £30 million funding to six sites across the UK, including the University of Oxford, to address challenging healthcare issues through use of data science. 

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 improvements in people’s health by harnessing data science at scale across the UK. 

The successful Health Data Research UK sites are:

  1. Cambridge – Wellcome Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute, University of Cambridge
  2. London – UCL, Imperial College London, King's College London, Queen Mary University of London, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  3. Midlands – University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University of Warwick, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  4. Oxford – University of Oxford
  5. Scotland – University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, University of Strathclyde
  6. Wales/Northern Ireland – Swansea University, Queen’s University Belfast

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 Martin Landray, Director of the Health Data Research UK Oxford site said, “We are delighted that the Big Data Institute at University of Oxford will play a major part in Health Data Research UK. This exciting endeavour brings new opportunities to understand the causes of disease and to develop new treatments with substantial benefits for patients and public health.”

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK, commented:

“I am delighted to make today’s 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 the British Heart Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research, the Economic and Social Research Council, the 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, and Wellcome.

For further details, please visit the Health Data Research UK website.