Queen’s University Belfast and Swansea University join new £54 Million UK health data science institute.

Queen’s University Belfast and Swansea University join new £54 Million UK health data science institute.

The National Institute for data science in health, Health Data Research UK (HDR-UK), has launched its Wales and Northern Ireland site as part of an initial £54 million investment to transform healthcare through data science.

Queen’s University and Swansea University have been selected to work with NHS partners as one of the six substantive sites through a rigorous internationally peer reviewed competition. This innovative partnership will take advantage of the ground-breaking science that is already happening at both universities and enable HDR-UK Wales Northern Ireland to make bigger advances in health research, by partnering with other Universities across the UK.

Launching this new multimillion pound research partnership, Vice Chancellor and President of Queen’s University Professor Ian Greer said:

“This vibrant partnership highlights our commitment to harness and implement the promise of data science. Queen’s University has recognised international strengths in health data science, reflected in publications in the highest impact journals including New England Journal of Medicine, Nature Medicine and Lancet Oncology.”

“Our Global Research Institute (GRI) in Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) is an international leader in the Big Data domain. Forging a partnership with Swansea University, who have world leading expertise in health data science with a specific focus on public health, represents a significant opportunity to coalesce our collective strengths in an innovative partnership to preserve and enhance human health.”

Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK said:

“I am delighted that Swansea University and Queen’s University have been chosen as an HDR UK Substantive Site and are bringing together researchers from different domains in an interdisciplinary partnership to transform the health of the population in Wales, Northern Ireland and beyond. Queen’s University and Swansea University will be a key driver of our health-preserving and economy-advancing ambitions across the UK.”

Andrew Rhodes, Registrar and Chief Operating Officer, Swansea University said:

“This new partnership with Queen’s University and Health Data Research UK will transform the scale, pace, efficiency and impact of data intensive medical research. Swansea has been an international leader in the field of health data science for more than a decade, producing major developments in privacy protecting data analysis and supporting some of the world’s largest and most impactful scientific studies.  Our new £31M Computational Foundry will also bring together computational scientists from many disciplines.

I also see tremendous benefits in embracing the concept of Team Science UK and integrating inter-disciplinary teams across our universities”

Professor Ronan Lyons, Research Director of HDR UK and Prof of Public Health at Swansea University said:

“I am incredibly excited to be working with Queen’s on this joint initiative. Our complementary strengths and competencies will allow us to make meaningful advances in key HDR UK priority areas including modernising public health and advancing precision medicine. Already, we are working together to make Swansea’s world class Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) databank available to researchers in Northern Ireland. We are also creating an HDR UK platform to support federated analysis of data across the UK”

Professor Mark Lawler, Associate Director HDR UK and Chair in Translational Cancer Genomics at Queen’s said:

“While Northern Ireland and Wales may be small in size, we punch well above our weight in data science research and its application.”

“Our work in precision medicine in colorectal cancer is already delivering new insights for this common disease that kills over 16,000 citizens in the UK each year, while our joint HDR-UK Fellowship programme is training the future leaders in health data sciences research. This partnership can also make a pivotal contribution to the UK’s ambition to be a global leader in life sciences and underpin national and local economic development.”

Professor Lawler is also driving the cancer health data agenda in his role as overall HDR-UK lead for cancer.

Professor Ian Young, Head of the Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Public Health Agency, NI) said:

“This exciting partnership between Queens University and Swansea University, supported by the PHA, will help implement an innovative health data science agenda across the UK. At a local level, it will deliver key health and economic benefits for patients and society in Northern Ireland”



About HDR UK

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is the national Institute for data science in health. Our UK team of experts develop and apply cutting-edge data science approaches to clinical, biological, genomic and other multi-dimensional health data to address the most pressing health research challenges facing the public. Our mission is to make game-changing improvements in the health of patients and populations through research and innovation.

HDR UK is funded by the Medical Research Council, 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 Care Research Wales, 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.

The 6 HDR UK substantive sites are:

  1. Wales/Northern Ireland – Swansea University, Queen’s University Belfast
  2. Cambridge – Wellcome Sanger Institute, European Bioinformatics Institute, University of Cambridge
  3. London – UCL, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London, The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
  4. Midlands – University of Birmingham, University of Leicester, University of Nottingham, University of Warwick
  5. Oxford – University of Oxford
  6. Scotland – University of Edinburgh, University of Aberdeen, University of Dundee, University of Glasgow, University of St Andrews, University of Strathclyde

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