A National Leadership Opportunity

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic HDR UK has had particular success unlocking population-wide routine data resources such as primary care and medicines data, including the first whole UK study using data from 67M individuals to reveal the impact of COVID-19 under-vaccination.

Realising the potential of integration and interrogation of multi-dimensional data on brain health, neurological and neurodegenerative diseases at population level will be key to improving health in an ageing society. There is now an opportunity, working with the UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) and Dementia Platform UK (DPUK) to develop a critical mass of diverse skills and partnerships, with coherent leadership to push forward a UK-wide data and infrastructure strategy dedicated to brain health research.

To fully understand the determinants of neurodegenerative disorders and wider neurological conditions and develop innovations that can improve people’s lives, it is critical that the full range of health-relevant data can be accessed through a trustworthy health data research ecosystem. As well as NHS-generated, whole population, ‘real world’ data, other diverse data sources include research-generated cohorts and registries, clinical trials, multi-omics, imaging and pathology data, as well as environmental, social, administrative and citizen-generated digital data.  Connecting existing data capabilities across the UK, including DPUK, Alzheimer’s Disease Data Initiative (AD Data Initiative) and wider partnership programmes including the NHS England Secure Data Environment Network has significant potential to accelerate trustworthy data use.  By working in partnership our aim is to bring the power of large-scale data and infrastructure to accelerate research that benefits patients and carers living with devastating neurodegeneration and neurological conditions – from Alzheimer’s disease to motor neuron disease to the consequences of traumatic brain injury.

In partnership with the UK DRI and DPUK, we have ambitious plans to build upon existing strengths and capabilities to accelerate trustworthy research data use for neurodegeneration, neurological conditions and to support long-term brain health.

We are seeking an accomplished data science leader who will lead the strategy and cultivate the partnerships to enable the collection, management, curation, linkage and access to large UK-wide datasets relevant to brain health research. The Research Director will work with research teams across the UK to deliver driver projects that will exemplify use of large-scale data for the diagnosis, prevention, intervention, and care of neurological conditions, reducing existing health inequalities in outcomes. The Research Director will work closely with HDR UK’s Infrastructure and Services teams alongside the BHF Data Science Centre, as well as colleagues at the UK DRI and DPUK, to share health data science knowledge and expertise from across the Institute supporting synergies across all disease areas.

Purpose of the Post

We are looking for an established leader who is well connected and highly respected across the neuroscience clinical and research communities in the UK and internationally. They will have an excellent track record in the use of large scale, multimodal data types in brain health research, and a strong commitment to developing linked health data-enabled approaches to enhance understanding of the causes and progression of neurodegenerative and neurological diseases to improve strategies for treatment.

The Research Director for Brain Health will work closely with the Directors of HDR UK, alongside UK DRI and DPUK, to identify and prioritise key areas of work in brain health data science research, demonstrating impact at national and international level in clinical practice, the health system and for people affected by neurological disease. The successful candidate will also draw support from the leads/partners of HDR UK’s Research Driver Programmes and the Associate Directors in the BHF Data Science Centre (including the Stroke Data Science Catalyst) in developing priorities and areas of collaboration.

Current funded programmes that will contribute to the portfolio include:

  • Dementia Trials Accelerator – a new collaboration between UK DRI, HDR UK and Medicines Discovery Catapult (MDC), and funded by the MRC, NIHR and the Office for Life Sciences designed to enabled the UK Government Dementia Mission, with a vision to rapidly position the UK as the destination of choice for investment and innovation in the delivery of clinical trials of new therapies for dementia, rapidly delivering significant patient and NHS benefits.
  • MND Research Data Catalyst – a new partnership programme, led by HDR UK, DPUK and UK DRI, working in close partnership with the MND patient and research community to convene and deliver data infrastructure and services, specifically designed to accelerate MND research. When launched, the MND Research Catalyst will first focus on enhancing discoverability of MND relevant datasets, building on the technology used by DPUK’s Data Portal.
  • AD Data Initiative-HDR UK Brain Health Data Pilots – a collaboration between HDR UK, the AD Data Initiative, the University of Edinburgh, Public Health Scotland (PHS) and Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust to support a two-year pilot to make some of the UK’s most comprehensive routine health imaging data more findable and accessible for dementia research projects both within the UK and internationally.
  • NEURiia collaboration between HDR UK, the University of Edinburgh, LifeArc, Eisai and Gates Ventures with the ambition to translate healthcare data and digital sciences into projects that can enhance the quality of life of people living with dementia and contribute to a national data infrastructure in the UK.
  • TBI-REPORTERA UK-wide research platform – UK-TBI REpository and data PORTal Enabling discoveRy (TBI-REPORTER), led by the University of Cambridge in collaboration with HDR UK to boost the use of data to advance treatment and care for people with traumatic brain injury.

Supported by HDR UK, the postholder will work with stakeholders, including people affected by neurological disease, across the UK to:

  • identify research priorities for large-scale, data-enabled brain health research;
  • forge relevant collaborations to progress brain health research priorities;
  • draw upon existing infrastructure innovations across HDR UK, identify and address the data infrastructure and analytics challenges that need to be overcome to enable linkage across health data and their analyses at UK-wide scale, to improve people’s health and care.

This part-time role will provide leadership and strategic planning for health data research related to brain health, using large-scale data and innovative analytical methods, working strategically with a wide range of partners.

Main responsibilities

  • Provide strategic leadership to bring together, interdisciplinary research, clinical, data science, professional societies and networks, NHS organisations, patients, public, industry and wider stakeholders to shape, influence and build consensus on the use of multi-modal health and health-related data for brain health research. An ability to see the bigger picture and focus on national priorities above local incentives, to ensure benefit to the wider neuroscience and data science communities.
  • Create and maintain new partnerships, building on existing networks across the data science, neurological disease communities, NHS organisations, industry, patients and public, regulatory and information governance partners to identify and address the key challenges of using, linking and analysing multi-modal health data at national scale. Manage competing demands and perspectives of partners to ensure priorities can be addressed and delivered effectively.
  • Work with health data science communities, patients and public, NHS organisations and industry, to identify and build on existing exemplar driver projects that will highlight and address key requirements for brain health data science. In collaboration with the wider health data science and brain health research communities, provide strategic leadership in the development of novel and/or reproducible methodological and analytical approaches.
  • Provide strategic direction and champion a team science approach to deliver projects, providing negotiation and brokering skills where necessary to drive improvement in the reproducible use, linkage and analysis of multimodal health data for brain health research.
  • Work with the Directors of HDR UK, UK DRI and DPUK and partners to lead the development of:
    • strategic plans for brain health data science at a national level
    • strong stakeholder and investor relationships, building on a track record of data-led innovation and delivery.
  • Contribute to and lead on relevant funding applications and other initiatives to leverage additional resources to enhance the research-enabling activities across the brain health data science portfolio.
  • Working with wider HDR UK colleagues, partners and patient/public groups to identify opportunities and provide content to communicate to diverse audiences the impact of data enabled activities for brain health data science.

Day-to-day project management support will be provided by the HDR UK team.

Knowledge, skills and experience


  • Extensive experience in brain health research as well as an interest and understanding of relevant aspects in health data science, in particular, access, linkage and analysis of electronic data from a variety of systems including hospital, primary care, registers, laboratory, multi-omic, imaging, voice, wearable and other digital data and specialist registries and audits. Understanding of national scale capability and patient/public trust to link health-relevant data from a wide-range of research cohorts and longitudinal studies to healthcare systems data, providing opportunities for the integration of increasingly granular, meaningful and/or person-centred information.
  • Proven leadership skills to provide direction and deliver change across the UK.
  • Ability to lead and inspire trust in a wide range of stakeholders and to build consensus across multiple stakeholders.
  • Advanced understanding of the complexities, challenges and limitations of using research and routinely collected data from different health settings (e.g., secondary care, primary care, dispensed medications, specialist registry data etc.) as well as from different devolved nations of the UK in health research.
  • Knowledge of innovative methodological and analytic approaches (e.g., AI and/or machine learning) and their application to analysis across routinely collected and other health data sources in health research.
  • Well connected with neurological and health data science research networks, NHS organisations, professional societies, industry and wider stakeholders of relevance to the ambitions of brain health data science portfolio.
  • Experience of working with patients, the public, and patient and public involvement networks/organisations in planning, delivering and communicating research.
  • Commitment and ability to bring together people with diverse skills and understanding of the importance of data and infrastructure to drive forward improvements and change systems through collaborative team working and exemplar projects.


  • Personal drive and ambition to provide leadership in the area of health data science in brain health research.
  • Excellent influencing and negotiating skills.
  • Creative and innovative thinker.
  • Ability to work flexibly with a team of highly skilled individuals, with expertise across disciplines and sectors in alignment to HDR UK’s values of Transparency, Optimism, Respect, Courage and Humility.
  • A commitment and enthusiasm to engaging with patients, the public, and patient and public involvement networks/organisations is essential.
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to listen to and bring on board a wide range of stakeholders with competing priorities and views.
  • Excellent networking and influencing skills with a desire to work collaboratively to achieve goals.
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills, with the ability to manage competing. priorities and issues under time pressures.

Application Process

Interested applicants are encouraged to contact any of: Professor Andrew Morris: Andrew.Morris@hdruk.ac.uk, Dr Rhoswyn Walker: Rhoswyn.Walker@hdruk.ac.uk , Professor Siddharthan Chandran Siddharthan.chandran@ed.ac.uk and Professor John Gallacher john.gallacher@psych.ox.ac.uk

Prior to application, candidates should discuss with their line manager / other relevant senior colleagues how this this part-time secondment position would fit with their existing post.

How to apply:

Please apply via  recruitment@hdruk.ac.uk with the following:

  • Your CV (listing no more than 20 of your most relevant publications or other research outputs and no more than 10 of your most relevant funding awards)
  • A covering letter of no more than 500 words explaining what you can bring to this role.
  • A letter from your institution supporting your secondment to perform this role if appointed.

Please contact recruitment@hdruk.ac.uk if you have any queries regarding your application.

The closing date for this vacancy is 30th June 2024.

Interviews will take place in mid-July.

Click here to download the complete job description.
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