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Professor Cecilia Lindgren has been appointed as the new Director of the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute.

The availability of biomedical information, also known as ‘big data’, is increasing rapidly. The analysis of this data provides an opportunity for transforming the scale and efficiency of large-scale clinical research and care.

The Big Data Institute (BDI) brings together researchers from different disciplines to focus on the analysis of large, complex, heterogeneous data sets for research into the causes, consequences, prevention and treatment of disease. Their work is invaluable in identifying the associations between lifestyle, genetic variants, infections, and health outcomes for people around the world.

Professor Lindgren’s work focuses on understanding the mechanisms involved in common complex traits, particularly obesity, by applying a range of genetic and genomic approaches to identify genetic risk variants and dissect their function. This knowledge will support therapeutic advances through development of new diagnostic tools and possible drug targets.

Professor Lindgren said ‘I am deeply honoured to be selected to lead the Big Data Institute at this time of exceptional opportunity for the UK’s biomedical researchers. Together with the excellent team of bright and committed staff at the BDI, I will work to further cement the BDI as a world-leading biomedical data institute.

‘At the BDI, we leverage large-scale biomedical data combined with cutting edge data science and quantitative analysis to advance our understanding and treatment of human disease and improve human health. I very much look forward to working with my colleagues in and around the BDI and Oxford, and with our many collaborators in the UK and across the globe.’

Professor Lindgren is currently Professor of Genomic Endocrinology & Metabolism in the University of Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Women's and Reproductive Health, and Group Head at the Wellcome Centre for Human Genetics. She is also currently a Senior Group Leader in the Big Data Institute.

Professor Sir Rory Collins, Head of the Nuffield Department of Population Health (a key partner in the BDI) said ‘Cecilia is an outstanding researcher and a leader in her field. I am delighted that she has agreed to lead the BDI, continuing to develop the Institute’s reputation for world-leading interdisciplinary research, computational innovation, and teaching excellence.’

Professor Richard Cornall, Head of the Nuffield Department of Medicine added ‘The work of the BDI requires people and projects that span departmental boundaries and scientific disciplines. Cecilia has demonstrated an ability to bring together partners from within and beyond the University to capitalise on the opportunities offered by big data to improve human health.’

The BDI was established in 2017. It is part of the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery at the University of Oxford's Old Road Campus. Funding for senior posts was received from the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the Robertson Foundation. The BDI received capital funding from the British Heart Foundation, the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Medical Research Council, and the Robertson Foundation.

Professor Lindgren will take up post on 1 April 2021. She succeeds Professor Gil McVean who was the founding director of the BDI, and Interim Director, Professor Martin Landray.