Five DARE UK Projects funded to drive trusted research
Over £2 million has been awarded by UK Research and Innovation – the UK’s largest public funder of research – to fund a series of Driver Projects as part of the DARE UK (Data and Analytics Research Environments UK) programme to drive a more coordinated secure use of sensitive data for research.
Five DARE UK driver projects teams will explore their plans and opportunities for collaboration.
A team led by Dr Arlene Casey, a Research Fellow in Health Data Research at the Usher Institute, University of Edinburgh, has been awarded £380,000 for project SARA to explore solution to semi-automate and standardise data audit and privacy assessment, working on the DataLoch data service.
The projects will take a leading role in informing the design of what will be a UK-wide network of trusted research environments (TREs) – highly secure digital environments that provide access to sensitive data for analysis by accredited researchers.
This is to support cross-domain data research for public good – for example, research about education, health, the environment and more, and how these different aspects of our lives interact with each other.
When sensitive data is made accessible for research, it is de-identified (all personal identifiable information is removed) and held in TREs, which have a series of strict security measures to prevent re-identification and protect against data misuse. This enables researchers to securely analyse the data as part of important projects in the public good.
Currently, different TREs across the UK follow different standards and processes, making it difficult for researchers to conduct analysis on multiple datasets held across different TREs.
The five Driver Projects will explore solutions to developing more standardised approaches to running and governing TREs, so that data can be more easily analysed across them in a safe, secure and efficient way.
“The five field-advancing Driver Projects will inform the direction of DARE UK’s mission to deliver a UK-wide network of interoperable trusted research environments (TREs) for research on sensitive data.
“The projects are focused on foundational aspects required to create a more coordinated and trustworthy data research infrastructure to accelerate discovery by safely streamlining the work of researchers while maintaining the public’s confidence. I look forward to following the progress of these exceptional teams as they deliver vital insights to inform DARE UK’s design ambition.”
Hans-Erik G. Aronson, Director of DARE UK Phase 1
“The UK’s digital research infrastructure underpins vast swathes of the research and innovation ecosystem. Through DARE UK, UKRI’s vision for a seamless and connected secure digital environment is one step closer.
“The Driver Projects, supported by our £2 million investment, demonstrate the breadth of thinking needed to not only harmonise existing technology of trusted research environments (TREs) but also harmonise the policy and governance approaches needed to maintain public trust in research using sensitive data.”
Dr Justin O’Byrne, Acting Co-Director of UKRI’s Digital Research Infrastructure
The five funded projects include:
SATRE: Standardised Architecture for Trusted Research Environments, led by researchers at the University of Dundee
TRE-FX: Delivering a federated network of TREs to enable safe data analytics, led by researchers at the University of Manchester
TELEPORT: Connecting researchers to big data at light speed, led by researchers at the University of Swansea
SARA: Semi-Automated Risk Assessment of Data Provenance and Clinical Free-text in TREs, led by researchers at the University of Edinburgh
SACRO: Semi-Automated Checking of Research Outputs, led by researchers at the University of the West of England
Each of the Driver Projects will run for nine months from February to October 2023, and their outputs will be shared publicly via the DARE UK website in late 2023.