Health Technologies

£72.3 million funding for HDR UK sees launch of five health data research programmes – htn

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) has announced that its new strategy, with five UK-wide research driver programmes focusing on areas “where data science had great potential”, aims to “harness the power of large-scale data to tackle some of the largest health challenges and build a strong foundation for future research”.

Underpinned by renewed funding of £72.3 million over the next five years, the five programmes include ‘Big Data for Complex Disease’, which will harness whole population data with the aim of promoting understanding, prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, cardiovascular conditions, and other complex diseases; and ‘Inflammation and Immunity’, looking to improve understanding of the epidemiology of allergic and respiratory conditions and identifying opportunities to reduce inequalities in care. In addition,  ‘Molecules to Health Records’ will bring together “information on genomics, other molecular traits, and electronic health records at scale”, and ‘Medicines in Acute and Chronic Care’ aims to understand and transform the way medicines are used for patients, and especially those with complex care needs caused by multiple long-term conditions. The final programme, ‘Social and Environmental Determinants of Health’, will see the development of national infrastructure and methods to “connect different types of social and environmental data with health data to gain new insights about the wider determinants of health”.

Professor Andrew Morris, director of HDR UK, said: “The research driver programmes are at the heart of HDR UK’s strategy over the next five years. Each one is not only designed to accelerate the speed and scale of health data research to benefit patients and the public through informing clinical decision making and influencing health policy, but also to innovate new approaches to data infrastructure, technology, standards, public engagement and governance. These are all essential components of a trustworthy data ecosystem.”

Find out more about each of the programmes here.

In related news, an interactive tool designed to “quickly shed light on project feasibility and data availability” has been provided by the BHF Data Science Centre at HDR UK. The tool allows researchers to explore available datasets along with their time period, size and the types of data contained, providing a “topline overview of the more than 70 datasets available through the CVD-COVID-UK/COVID-IMPACT Consortium. BHF Data Science Centre director and chief scientist for HDR UK, Professor Cathie Sudlow, commented that the tool “aims to maximise the potential benefits of research to patients and the public and reflects our commitment to open science and transparency.” More information can be found here.

In July, we covered the publication of NICE’s new transformation plan, which covers its intention to “evolve” over the next few years, to meet “the changing needs of the health and care system”, recognising the need to adapt to be able to effectively manage new digital technologies and the “exponential” increase in health and care data.

Last month, we spoke to Dr Kathrin Cresswell and Professor Robin Williams for HTN Now, about harnessing data for secondary uses such as service planning and research, and making data actionable.



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