A team from the Population Data Science have created a new driver programme as part of a UK partnership to better understand the fundamental mechanisms of inflammation and immunity through data science discoveries. The new Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme will deliver key insights to improve patient care for those affected by inflammation-mediated diseases.
Inflammation-mediated diseases present a global healthcare challenge, causing a significant adverse impact on individuals’ quality of life and a substantial economic strain on healthcare systems. The Driver Programme will initially focus on highly prevalent respiratory and allergic diseases. These conditions can be exacerbated by acute inflammatory episodes due to viral infections and environmental factors such as pollution, tobacco, pollen, weather and drugs. Funded by Health Data Research (HDR) UK and led by Usher Institute at Edinburgh University and Imperial College London, the Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme is one of five programmes that will bring together Trusted Research Environments (TREs) from across the UK. These programmes are designed to harness the power of large-scale data to deliver ground-breaking scientific impacts and infrastructure innovation.
The programmes will enhance and assemble national scale research-ready data assets, creating ‘data foundations’ that will enable discoveries using data across the whole population of the UK. These data foundations will involve a range of large-scale data from biological, environmental, molecular, pathogen, environmental and electronic health records, managed by a range of partners in academia, NHS, government, industry and charities.
In Wales, the new Inflammation and Immunity centre will be led by Professor Gwyneth Davies, from Population Data Science at Swansea University involving colleagues from the Wales Asthma Observatory and SAIL Databank, the national TRE for Welsh health and population data. The team will also work in partnership with the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research (AUKCAR), Alder Hey Children’s Hospital Trust and Queen’s University Belfast to support pan-UK discoveries.
“Our team in Swansea will investigate health inequalities in respiratory conditions, such as asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD), and support the wider aim of the driver programme to improve the utility and efficacy of routinely collected data such as GP and hospital records to create ‘observatories’ of these health conditions. Alongside academic and clinical sites across the UK, our ambition is to build a platform for UK-wide analyses and disease monitoring.” – Professor Gwyneth Davies, Professor of Health Data Science, Population Data Science at Swansea University.
These efforts build upon the work of the BREATHE Health Data Research Hub and the EAVE II Surveillance Platform that stemmed from the COVID-19 respiratory health emergency. This collaborative groundwork helped to bring UK TREs and data providers together: Imperial College London and the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) in England, DataLoch and Public Health Scotland in Scotland, the SAIL Databank in Wales, and the Honest Broker Service in Northern Ireland.
The Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme will now progress work on disease-specific cohort curation by producing a harmonised set of criteria and clinical coding for how asthma, COPD, and ILD should be characterised in routine health records. This consistent data baseline will contain research-ready data related to patients’ demographics, diagnoses, condition events (e.g. ongoing GP or hospital care) and medications, and also provide the facility to link to wider records pertaining to comorbidities, other conditions, and healthcare history.
The Programme explores inflammation and immunity as general underpinning mechanisms, initially focusing on highly prevalent respiratory and allergic diseases. These conditions can be exacerbated by acute inflammatory episodes due to viral infections and environmental factors such as pollution, tobacco, pollen, weather, drugs, foods stinging insects etc.
More broadly, the programme will support a wide network of HDR UK-funded PhDs to build capacity within health data science and train the next generation of population data science researchers, both within diseases and in applied analytics to develop reproducible research methodologies.
In time, the Swansea team aim to create further derived datasets across respiratory conditions, alongside analytical script and clinical coding information which will be added to the HDR UK Innovation Gateway and made available in SAIL Databank for future UK-collaborative research.
“Respiratory conditions still unnecessarily blight and claim the lives of far too many people in the UK and globally. We aim to utilise the UK’s outstanding health and health-related data asset, and work with members of the public, colleagues and partners across the UK, to provide key policy and clinical insights that will improve respiratory outcomes for the UK’s population. We will then take the insights from these experiences in respiratory medicine and use these to catalyse similar improvements for other inflammatory and immune-mediated conditions” – Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh, Professor of Primary Care Research & Development and Director of the Usher Institute at The University of Edinburgh
“This is a fantastic opportunity to improve the quality of data recording and use of data to better respiratory outcomes for people in the UK and to expand this learning to other diseases which will ultimately be included in the Inflammation and Immunity driver programme” – Professor Jennifer Quint, Professor of Respiratory Epidemiology at Imperial College London Discover more about the Inflammation and Immunity Driver Programme Centre of Excellence