Half a million pounds awarded to data scientists researching heart disease

20 December 2018        

Category: Research

The British Heart Foundation and The Alan Turing Institute have awarded six research grant applications through a joint funding scheme, totalling over £550,000.  The research grants aim to generate data science solutions with the potential to transform how we diagnose and treat many heart and circulatory conditions.

a stylised drawing of a circuit board in the shape of a human head representing the idea of artificial intelligence

Healthcare costs as a result of heart and circulatory diseases stand at £7.4 billion. Despite better diagnoses, surgical advances, and improved survival rates for those suffering from heart and circulatory conditions, coronary heart disease is still the cause of most early deaths in the UK. The potential for these research projects to help avoid those early deaths could be enormous. 

These grants, newly-awarded to researchers based at the Turing, University of Bristol, University of Cambridge, University of Edinburgh, Imperial, King’s College London, University of Oxford, Newcastle University, University of Surrey,  and UCL, all look at using data science to improve the lives of people living with heart and circulatory disease.

Treating patients sooner

Some awards aim to help make earlier and more accurate diagnoses of heart diseases, so that patients can be treated sooner. Others aim to help doctors deliver more precise treatments – more treatments that work – and, if successful, could reduce pressure on the health system as a whole, while allowing patients to monitor and manage their own conditions at home. 

All of the projects involve developing new and innovative ways to look at data – some collected from cells, some collected routinely in clinics and hospitals, and some from people using wearable technology that measures the exercise you take. 

An era of digital medicine

Professor Metin Avkiran, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“The UK is blessed with many world-class heart and circulatory disease researchers, spanning a wide range of disciplines. But, as we enter the era of digital medicine, there’s a growing need to foster excellence in applying data science solutions to cardiovascular problems. At the BHF, we recognise the enormous potential of data science and want to create an environment where we can realise that potential.

“This funding is a major step towards using data science to make transformational improvements in preventing, detecting and treating heart attacks and strokes, as well as other heart and circulatory diseases.”

Professor Chris Holmes, Programme Director for Health at The Alan Turing Institute, said:

“The application of data science research methods has the potential to revolutionise the way cardiovascular disease is diagnosed and treated. We know that heart and circulatory disease is the biggest killer in the UK, so the impact of this work is not only far-reaching but could potentially save lives. 

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