Population Data Science at Swansea University and its component teams and groups have an important role in supporting and training the next generation of researchers and data scientists and building the workforce capacity for future research success in this field. We work closely between our Centre’s of Excellence and other leaders such as Administrative Data Research (ADR) UK and Health Data Research (HDR) UK to capitalise on available knowledge and capacity to train and develop the next generation of population data scientists.
Utilising linked health, social and administrative data is a complex undertaking that requires specific knowledge to maximise utility and efficiency. Population Data Science is committed to providing the environment and mentoring expertise to support the Economic and Social Research Council’s (ESRC) capacity-building strategy.
For many years, individual projects and teams have worked with students to develop their expertise and experience on existing funded and approved SAIL Databank projects. However, this year is the first where the SAIL Databank team has developed a streamlined programme in coordination with the Faculty of Medicine, Health & Life Science at Swansea University to provide a set of defined and approved research projects which students and their supervisors can now access, under the same rules and requirements as other SAIL projects, for users to gain the experience of using real-world anonymised individual-level population-scale data for their education and 3rd year Capstone viva project.
SAIL Databank is operated on a not-for-profit basis and intended to be accessible and affordable for the widest possible spectrum of the research community. As such, SAIL now provides an option to student users who can satisfy SAIL’s existing, vigorous governance requirements with ongoing supervisory support.
The first eight of these student projects are revealed in this latest SAIL Databank blog series…
|Alreem Alhijji |
Not much is known about the effectiveness of blue green space exposure as a treatment in patients suffering from mental health disorders. The gaps in research that currently exist surrounding this novel intervention were the main objectives of this research. I have completed a comprehensive literature review to explore the impact of blue green space on mental health amongst published data. One aspect of my project will provide critical and thematic analysis of the research literature by looking at different measures and variables including exposure length to green blue space, the outcomes and cofounders comprising statistical tests analysing the correlation between variables identified to further elucidate whether or not blue green space is the key factor that influences mental health or one of many factors. I will also be using administrative health and environment datasets to investigate whether increased access to green and blue spaces is positively associated with self-reported wellbeing.
|Jacob Bailey |
Epilepsy is a common neurological condition affecting around 1% of the population. Sodium valproate is one the most effective medications for some types of epilepsy. However, it is known that sodium valproate can cause harm to the unborn baby in women who take it whilst pregnant. Because of this, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency introduced regulations to ensure that sodium valproate is only prescribed when necessary and that women who take it can make a fully informed decision based on the risks involved. In my capstone project, I will be studying sodium valproate prescription rates in women with epilepsy of childbearing age in Wales. In particular, I will be looking at whether the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency regulations have changed valproate prescribing rates. I will use anonymised primary care data within SAIL and look at geographical variation in prescribing patterns as well as changes over time. If there is a significant increase in sodium valproate prescribing rates across health boards that implies the current measures are not working and more attention/education may need to be provided in this area.
|Ester Mecja |
My name is Ester Mecja. I am currently a third year Medical Biochemistry student at Swansea University. For my Capstone Project I will be looking into the effects of newer antiseizure medications (ASM) on pregnancy outcomes for women with epilepsy. Seizure control is critical during pregnancy but this needs to be balanced by the possible adverse effects of ASMs on foetal development. Little is known on the effect of the newer ASMs during pregnancy. I will be using data from the SAIL Databank to look at the pregnancy outcomes of women prescribed newer ASMs compared to older ASMs. The aim will be to provide much needed information to help women with epilepsy make informed treatment choices and get the best possible outcomes in pregnancy.
|Palesa Ndlovu |
Socio-economic status and HbA1c in people with diabetes living in Swansea Bay area. The relationship between HbA1c variability and sociodemographic factors may provide insight into ways to improve glycemic management and reduce the occurrence of chronic complications due to diabetes. The relationship between socioeconomic status and HbA1c variability is less defined than the relationship between HbA1c other diabetes risk factors. The purpose of this study is to examine if there is a relationship between socioeconomic factors and glycemic control using SAIL data on HbA1c as well as blood pressure, lipid profile, alanine aminotransferase test (ALT) and smoking status of individuals with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes who live in the Swansea Bay region and will be stratified by address (post code).
|Shankar Maini |
Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a metabolic disorder identified by high blood glucose levels for an extended time period. Many factors can contribute to type 2 diabetes, however, diet plays a key role in the development and prevention of type 2 diabetes. Therefore, the research I aim to complete using SAIL will be a retrospective cohort study, identifying the link between proximity to fast food outlets and the incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus across Wales. I will then manipulate the data sets including age, weight and height, deprivation status and possibly alcohol consumption where available. The data will then be analysed using logistic regression, incorporating the proximity of patients to fast food outlets.
|Joshua Tyrrell |
Status Epilepticus (SE) is a rare condition of prolonged seizures that may cause brain damage. It is linked with epilepsy and little is known as to whether there are predictive factors of the disease. The goal of this project is to identify whether there are any predictive factors for SE by applying a machine learning classifier to patient data. The data, obtained from SAIL, will be composed of all available data on patients with epilepsy, with those who have experienced an episode of SE being labelled as the positive class and those who have not the negative class. Once the classifier has been trained, variable importance tests can be carried out to identify which variables were most useful to the modelling program, allowing us to identify factors that are strongly predictive.
|Amy Wakeman |
I am a final year Applied Medical Sciences student at Swansea University, and I will be using the SAIL Databank for my final year Capstone Project. The focus of my project is to look at the occurrence and extent of multimorbidity in patients with Epilepsy, specifically concerning mental health conditions. As part of my research, I will also be comparing the geographic location of patients with mental health morbidities with the aim of identifying whether geographic factors such as living in an area of deprivation may impact the mental health experiences of patients with Epilepsy.
|Anna Wilks |
Epilepsy is a common neurological disorder affecting around 30,000 people in Wales. In this project, I will be using the SAIL Databank to study the most severe form of seizure that can affect people with epilepsy, status epileptics. Status epilepticus is a prolonged seizure that can be life-threatening, it also can be preventable. I will be looking at changes in the rates of status epilepticus in Wales. By measuring data both nationally and by health board, I aim to identify regional abnormalities and will also look at changes with time and associations with specific demographic information, such as the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation. Any specific changes or trends that I identify could be a marker in differences or changes in epilepsy treatment nationally.
SAIL Databank’s Senior Research Manager and Data Scientist, Ashley Akbari, commented, “The development of the next generation of researchers and data scientists, as well as increasing capacity with other organisations who can make use of the SAIL Databank such as in academia, NHS, public health, government etc., has been part of our focus for many years across Population Data Science, through various mechanisms including mentoring, buddy schemes on funded research projects, capacity and training events and our Population Data Science internship programme. This new development of a dedicated student research project scheme is the next stage in our expanding learning and capacity development, and we hope that this inaugural cohort of students will benefit from this scheme, and it will grow in strength and size in years to come”.
Head of Swansea University Medical School and Professor of Human Immunology, Cathy Thornton, added, “This programme offers a fabulous chance for the students to start translating their degree learning into real world research experience and engagement with the wider research community. The SAIL Databank team are to be applauded for the development of a programme that maximises this opportunity for our students. I am looking forward to seeing both how this programme develops over the coming years and the career prospects that it provides for the students.”