As an emerging field, health data science needs places and opportunities for people to meet, network, collaborate and get up-to-date information on jobs and other opportunities.

That’s what the HDR UK Alumni Network aims to achieve.

James, a PhD student at the University of York and a graduate from an HDR UK-funded master’s degree at Exeter, has just taken on the role of co-ordinating the network.

Right now the activity is largely on LinkedIn and it’s primarily a place to find out about jobs but in the months ahead he hopes to see it take off in new directions.

He said: “Health data science and HDR UK are relatively new in the science world and I think it would be great if current students, alumni and professionals had a place to come together and build networks – create the sort of community that other areas of science have.

“Connecting all the people who’ve been involved in HDR UK for the past few years would provide a great opportunity for everyone.”

A key feature could be its diversity, bringing together people from the Black Internships Programme, from apprenticeships and from HDR UK’s master’s degrees, PhDs and fellowships.

“It’s strength will be its breadth – a way to make contacts in every part of the UK and with people in industry, academia and the NHS.

“Some people alumni have ended up in other areas like the financial industry, but are still using similar techniques. I think there’s a value of bringing all of these different types of people together.”

James hopes the Alumni Network will help people advance their careers – whether that’s through learning networking skills or getting tips on how to build their LinkedIn profile. He also hopes it will give people chances to exchange hard science skills, like the use of new algorithms.

Just as important is the possibility of providing forums to promote discussion and which could lead to joint projects.

Having said all that, the idea is for the Alumni Network to be user-led so one of James’ first plans is to start asking people what they want from it.