Health Data Research UK launches £2m fund for Covid research


Health Data Research UK has launched a £2m fund to better understand Covid-19 through advanced data and analytics.

The funding call is part of the National Baseline Studies (NCS) on Covid-19, with Health Data Research UK working in partnership with the Alan Turing Institute and the Office of National Statistics.

It will be part of the NCS Data and Connectivity program. This study makes UK-wide health and administrative data available to support and accelerate research into Covid-19, through simplified data access and analysis.

Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK and Head of Data and Connectivity, said: “The projects supported by this exciting funding call will yield insights that continue to improve our understanding of Covid-19 and therefore inform how best to support patients in the next phase of the pandemic response.

“Working in partnership with the ONS and the Alan Turing Institute provides further demonstration of how our collaboration drives innovation and that together we will have an even greater positive impact on society through the application of the science of health data.”

By supporting research projects and analysis, Health Data Research UK hopes to create new information that will inform national Covid-19 policies as well as future pandemic preparedness. To do so, it will use the data infrastructure and capabilities gathered by the study; use the Trusted Research Environment (TRE) to apply new expertise in analytical, statistical and mathematical modeling and machine learning; and improving the data assets made available.

Research projects that seek to use multiple datasets currently linked and available in TREs to perform analyzes will be given priority. For example:

  • Summary of viral variants and genomic sequencing data from Covid-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK)
  • Linkage of relevant outbreak data from clinical records, research studies and audits of key initiatives (e.g. CO-CIN)
  • Covid vaccination data linked
  • The linked national electronic health record data asset
  • The linked public health research dataset (census, mortality, primary care data)

Professor Sir Adrian Smith, director of the institute and chief executive of the Alan Turing Institute, said: “This call builds on the strength of the existing partnership between Turing, ONS and HDR UK, which combines expertise in analytical advanced, with the collection and storage of data in and beyond the field of health. We are delighted to support the progress of National Core Studies and its success to date.

Earlier this year, Health Data Research UK launched a new feature for researchers allowing them to search by specific population criteria across multiple datasets.

An episode of Digital Health Unplugged with Health Data Research UK looked at data usage during the Covid-19 pandemic. You can listen to the episode here or on Spotify, Apply Podcasts and the usual podcast platforms.


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