£54 million funding to transform health through data science

Birmingham Health Partners will lead one of six new sites across the UK created to address challenging healthcare issues through use of data science

Birmingham Health Partners will lead one of six new sites across the UK created to address challenging healthcare issues through use of data science, funded by £30 million from Health Data Research UK.

The University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust will form part of the Midlands site, together with the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham, and Warwick. The other five sites will be based in Cambridge, London, Oxford, Scotland and Wales/Northern Ireland.

Each site has world-class expertise; a track record in using health data to derive new knowledge, scientific discovery and insight; and works in close partnership with NHS bodies and the public to translate research findings into benefits for patients and populations.

From April this year, the six sites will work collaboratively as foundation partners in Health Data Research UK to make game-changing improvements in people’s health by harnessing data science at scale across the UK.

Each site’s research organisations will receive long-term funding awards and will become part of a collaborative research community working together to deliver the priorities of Health Data Research UK. This initial funding is awarded following a rigorous application process, which included interviews with an international panel of experts.

Professor David Adams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor at the University of Birmingham and Director of Birmingham Health Partners, said: “Birmingham Health Partners is proud to be leading the Midlands HDR UK Site which is a collaboration between four Midlands universities and our NHS partners.

“We will pool our regional capabilities and build on the sector-leading digital environment developed by University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation NHS Trust to tackle vital challenges for healthcare that can only be addressed using the unique opportunities emerging from a digital NHS.”

Professor Simon Ball, Director of Digital Healthcare at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Director of the Midlands HDR UK site, said: “The Midlands HDR UK Substantive Site award is hugely exciting, not just for our academic and NHS partners, but also for our patients.

“By bringing together excellence in research and healthcare informatics and data science across Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham and Warwick, we have a unique opportunity for innovation to improve diagnosis, refine prognosis and personalise treatment for patients regionally and nationally.”

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK, commented: “I am delighted to make today’s announcement, which marks the start of a unique opportunity for scientists, researchers and clinicians to use their collective expertise to transform the health of the population.

“The six HDR UK sites, comprising 22 universities, research and NHS organisations, have tremendous individual strengths and will form a solid foundation for our long-term ambition.

“By working together and with NHS and industry partners to the highest ethical standards, our vision is to harness data science on a national scale. This will unleash the potential for data and technologies to drive breakthroughs in medical research, improving the way we are able to prevent, detect and diagnose diseases like cancer, heart disease and asthma.

“I am grateful to our funders who recognise the importance of collaboration at scale, and the pivotal contribution of health data research to the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in life sciences, for health and economic benefit.”

This is the first phase of investment to establish Health Data Research UK. A further £24 million will be invested in upcoming activities, including a Future Talent Programme and work to address targeted data research challenges through additional partnership sites.

Health Data Research UK is committed to the highest ethical standards and will work with experts in public engagement to ensure the public voice is central to its activity. It will work at scale and forge national and international partnerships to deliver:

  • New scientific discovery
  • A vibrant training environment for the next generation of data scientists
  • The creation of a trustworthy UK-wide research and innovation ecosystem for health data research.

Health Data Research UK is a joint investment co-ordinated by the Medical Research Council, working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland), Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates, and Wellcome.

Ends

For further information, contact Emma McKinney, Communications Manager (Health Sciences), University of Birmingham, tel: +44 (0) 121 414 6681. For out of hours contact the press office on +44 (0) 7789 921 165.

Notes to Editors

  • Birmingham Health Partners (BHP) is a strategic alliance between the University of Birmingham, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust and Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Foundation Trust. BHP’s mission is to harness research strengths between the University and NHS to deliver better treatments and care to our patients. Together, they deliver research that matters.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions. Its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers, teachers and more than 5,000 international students from over 150 countries.
  • University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust runs the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham (QEHB) and the original Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and hosts the Institute of Translational Medicine (ITM). The Trust has approximately 1,400 beds, 32 theatres and a 100-bedded critical care unit - the largest in Europe. QEHB is a Major Trauma Centre treating the most severely injured casualties from across the region. The hospitals are a regional centre for trauma, burns, plastics, neurosciences and cancer and in 2014 became a lead genomics centre as part of the NHS 100,000 genomes project. UHB has the largest solid organ transplantation programme in Europe. In 2016/17, UHB cared for over 1 million patients and currently employs over 9,500 members of staff. UHB is a Foundation Trust and has over 23,000 members
  • The successful Health Data Research UK sites are:
  1. Cambridge – Wellcome Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute, University of Cambridge 
  2. London – UCL, Imperial College London, King's College London, Queen Mary University of London, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  3. Midlands – University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University of Warwick, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust
  4. Oxford – University of Oxford
  5. Scotland – University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, University of Strathclyde
  6. Wales/Northern Ireland – Swansea University, Queen’s University Belfast
  • For further details, please visit the Health Data Research UK website here.