£54 million awarded to tackle disease through big data

6 February 2018        

Category: Research

In a partnership part funded by us, Health Data Research UK will be awarding £54 million funding to six collaborations of world leading UK universities and research institutes to fuel scientific advances using data science.

Doctors collaborating using patient information

The six collabortations involving 21 sites were chosen for their world-leading expertise and proven track record of using big data to generate health breakthroughs and span across the UK and Northern Ireland.

What is big data?

Every time we see a doctor or go to the hospital data is collected about our health. This data might include our height, weight, age, blood cholesterol, blood glucose, health condition and medication amongst many other important measurements. Not only is this data important for doctors to understand our individual health, when looked at on a larger scale, across thousands or even hundreds of thousands of people, it can reveal extremely important patterns in health and disease. These patterns help us to understand the cause of disease, improve diagnosis, develop new treatments, monitor safety of treatments and medications, and improve our healthcare system in ways which previously weren’t possible.

The funding awards were decided by an extensive application process involving a panel of international experts, and will fuel long term projects. The awards will enable collaboration between the leading research centres in the UK to tackle today’s major healthcare issues including heart and circulatory disease.

Describing the importance of this announcement Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, our Medical Director said:

"Big data has the potential to transform the way we understand health and will shape the future of healthcare. It’s an extremely exciting area.

"We are delighted to be contributing to this new funding from Health Data Research UK. The funding awards will work to create a collaborative research community of leading scientists and clinicians across the UK and Northern Ireland.

"Initiatives like this are the key to fuelling cutting edge research which could ultimately find a cure for heart and circulatory disease."

The sites awarded were:

  • Cambridge – Wellcome Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute, University of Cambridge
  • London – UCL, Imperial College London, King's College London, Queen Mary University of London, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  • Midlands – University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University of Warwick
  • Oxford – University of Oxford
  • Scotland – University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, University of Strathclyde
  • Wales/Northern Ireland – Swansea University, Queen’s University Belfast

Read more about why big data is important for medical research in our blog