The Health Data Research (HDR) UK Centre of Excellence at Population Data Science Research Institute is to receive a £3m funding boost following HDR UK’s award for UK projects.
Overall, more than £70 million has been granted to Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) by nine of the largest government and charity research funders in the UK. The funding will support HDR UK’s core work to accelerate trustworthy access to health data and improve treatments, deliver better health care and save lives.
It will help to tackle some of the biggest global health crises, including cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and could speed up and reshape approaches to research.
Earlier funding from HDR UK as part of the National Core Studies programme positioned the Population Data Science team at the centre of the ‘One Wales’ response to COVID-19, informing the national strategy in Wales. This funding helped galvanise UK collaboration and enabled Population Data Science teams to swiftly monitor and analyse the prevalence, transmission, vaccine uptake and wider health implications of COVID-19.
Commenting on this latest funding announcement, HDR UK Wales Co-director, Professor Sinead Brophy, said, “We are excited to continue our collaboration with HDR UK to improve access to health data and improve treatments and health care. We will be working on understanding how the community and home you live in impacts on your health, how to make sure people are rapidly offered the right medicines for them, tackling some of the big global issues such as infection, cancer and cardiovascular disease, improving maternal and child health, and making sure we use leading methods in trials to build the best evidence to save lives. We are working with the NHS, Public Health Wales, Charities and Industry to enhance the discoverability, availability and usefulness of large-scale health data. Using our SeRP technology and Trusted Research Environment, SAIL Databank, this new funding will provide additional resource to our Population Data Science teams and stimulate innovative new research.”
The UK is in a unique position to realise the potential of health data, thanks to the NHS and its cradle-to-grave records for a population of over 65 million people. However, safe and secure access to this data for researchers is often a lengthy, fragmented process, meaning the potential for improving healthcare is not being realised in full.
HDR UK director, Professor Andrew Morris, said, “The transformative potential of health data research is a long way from being realised in full. Only a small proportion of NHS, biomedical and health-relevant data is accessible for research. Our work is far from done if we are to benefit patients and improve lives – this significant funding award is a step change in ensuring we achieve this mission.”
HDR UK is the national institute for health data science. It works with the NHS and partners in universities, charities, industry and regulators in bringing the UK’s health data together to make discoveries that improve people’s lives.
HDR UK was established five years ago with core funding of £52.7 million. Following an in-depth review by an international panel, the funding for 2023 to 2028 has been increased to £72.3 million over five years.
The next five years of funding will see HDR UK follow a plan to increase the speed, scale and quality of health data science and so enable new discoveries.
· UK-wide, collaborative research programmes will drive forward the use of large datasets in different areas: from cancer and heart disease to respiratory disease, from the use of medicines to looking at social and environmental impacts on health.
· The current fragmentation and lack of standardisation in the data will be tackled by working with many different organisations, building capabilities and supporting real team science.
· Patients and the public will continue to be involved throughout the Institute’s work – ensuring that access to data for research is enabled by trustworthy, safe and secure systems and generates public benefit.
The nine funding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates, Health and Care Research Wales, and Health & Social Care R&D in Northern Ireland.