University recognised in national Health Data review

A new Medical Research Council report highlights the University of Liverpool’s strengths in health and biomedical informatics.

Every day, more data than ever before is being generated about our lives. Allowing researchers to examine health data safely and securely could hold the key to unlocking treatments and preventing a whole host of diseases. But the sector needs specialist research expertise and cutting edge analytical methods to make sense of both the volume and complexity of information.

Mapping the Landscape of UK Health Data Research and Innovation is a new landmark report published by the Medical Research Council. The report highlights the complex and flourishing area of health data research in the UK, detailing key activities and major investments made by UK public funders, government, charities and universities from across the country.

Commissioned in 2017, the review provides a unique window into major investments made by 26 research organisations, and informed the establishment of the new national institute – Health Data Research UK – whose mission is to make game-changing improvements in the health of patients and populations through data science research and innovation. The report acts as an important benchmark to help inform funder strategy, prevent duplication of effort and encourage collaboration in the informatics sector, both within the field and for external stakeholders.

The report found the University to have strengths in health and biomedical informatics focus on the areas of precision medicine, infectious diseases and clinical trials methodology. The University’s Healthcare Data Laboratory, established as part of the Connected Health Cities programme, links the University’s critical mass of analytical expertise with a programme of engagement of front-line clinicians across the North-West Coast region, was recognised as supporting iterative co-production of clinically-validated analytics and data visualizations for defined patient pathways with NHS staff and stakeholders.

The report also highlighted the University’s partnerships with local NHS Trusts, four of which (Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust, Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and Wirral University Teaching Hospital Foundation Trust) for providing opportunities to align joint applied research programmes and answer important clinical and public health questions using new informatics and technological methods.

Professor Paula Williamson, Head of the University’s Department of Biostatistics, said: “This report highlights the University’s significant growth in this area of research. This is a transformational time for the health data research community, with a multitude of players all over the world. The University has a tremendous wealth and variety of health data but also a real strength in analytical skills. ”

Dr Rob Buckle, Chief Science Officer at the Medical Research Council, said: “This report is snapshot of activity at a particular point in time in a very fast moving sector but is a great resource for organisations looking to fund, research or collaborate in this area. It will help stop us reinventing the wheel, plug research gaps and inform an ambitious future research strategy.  What’s more, it highlights what a diverse and exciting area health data research is. This sector is thriving and in addition to its importance for promoting health and well-being, has huge potential to help deliver the UK Industrial Strategy, making the UK a global leader of the industries of the future.”

The full report can be found here.

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