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HDR UK announces five strategic research driver programmes


A UK-wide programmes at the centre of a new strategy by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) will harness the power of large-scale data to tackle some of the largest health challenges and build a strong foundation for future research.

HDR UK has announced its new strategy aimed at addressing substantial health challenges through harnessing extensive data. This transformative venture sets the stage for a robust foundation in future research.

With a renewed funding of £72.3 million spanning the next five years, HDR UK’s strategy prioritises empowering researchers, fostering partnerships, and accelerating ethical data utilisation.

Central to this framework are five strategic research driver programmes, aimed at bolstering health data infrastructure for the broader research community’s benefit, driving progress in public health, disease prevention, and patient care.

Among these is the Inflammation and Immunity programme, co-led by Professor Sir Aziz Sheikh from the Usher Institute and Professor Jenny Quint from Imperial College London. This programme aims to enrich our comprehension of inflammation and immunity’s fundamental mechanisms, with a prime focus on prevalent respiratory and allergic diseases. By delving into how these mechanisms contribute to diseases exacerbated by acute inflammatory episodes from diverse factors, the programme strives to ultimately enhance patient care and tackle the worldwide challenge presented by inflammation-mediated conditions.

Each programme will focus on an area where data science has great potential to improve public health, prevent people from becoming unwell, and enhance patient care:

Big Data for Complex Disease will harness whole population, national linked health data to improve the understanding, prevention and early diagnosis of cancer, cardiovascular conditions and other complex diseases
Inflammation and Immunity seeks to better understand the epidemiology of allergic and respiratory conditions across the UK and identify opportunities to reduce inequalities in care
Molecules to Health Records will bring together information on genomics, other molecular traits, and electronic health records at scale
Medicines in Acute and Chronic Care aims to understand and transform the use of medicines for patients of all ages, especially those with complex care needs caused by multiple long-term conditions
Social and Environmental Determinants of Health will focus on developing national infrastructure and methods to connect different types of social and environmental data with health data to gain new insights about the wider determinants of health

All of the research driver programmes take advantage of the range of datasets available across the UK that are relevant to human health, collectively spanning discovery, prevention, early diagnosis, and treatment.

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of HDR UK, said: “The HDR UK team across the UK and our fantastic partners have already made significant progress in our mission to unite the UK’s health data to enable discoveries that improve people’s lives. We are now able to support and run analyses on over 65M people UK-wide. However, we are still in the foothills of where we need to be if we are to fully realise the transformative potential of health data research.

“The research driver programmes are at the heart of HDR UK’s strategy over the next five years. Each one is not only designed to accelerate the speed and scale of health data research to benefit patients and the public through informing clinical decision making and influencing health policy, but also to innovate new approaches to data infrastructure, technology, standards, public engagement and governance. These are all essential components of a trustworthy data ecosystem.”