Cambridge selected for Health Data Research UK site

Cambridge selected for Health Data Research UK site

7 Feb 2018 - 09:20


  • Data science has the potential to drive medical research and the way we prevent, detect and diagnose disease 
  • Health Data Research UK awarded £30 million to six sites across the UK, including Cambridge
  • EMBL-EBI will work alongside the Wellcome Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge to address challenging healthcare issues through the use of data science.

Cambridge, UK, 7 January 2018   –  Health Data Research UK is awarding £30 million to six sites across the UK to apply advanced data science to challenging issues in healthcare. The Cambridge site of HDR UK will be jointly run between the Wellcome Sanger Institute, the University of Cambridge and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).

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

Harnessing data science

“EMBL-EBI believes data sharing is essential for improving our understanding of human health and disease,” explains Ewan Birney, Director of EMBL-EBI. “Contributing our expertise in data management and big data analysis to Health Data Research UK is just one way we are supporting the development of biomedical informatics institutes across Europe, and beyond. This is an exciting opportunity for science and public health, and we are pleased to be a part of it. Our experience with HDR-UK will help us build the foundations for interactions with similar partners in other countries.”

“The volume of health data is already vast, and we have every reason to expect it will continue to grow quickly – we must find effective, efficient ways to harness this data for both clinical research and practicing medicine,” says Helen Parkinson, Head of Molecular Archival Resources at EMBL-EBI and Associate Director of the Cambridge Substantive Site for Health Data Research UK. “We need a very broad range of collaborations to ensure the data being collected and analysed is robust, precise and translatable. With a rich, connected ecosystem of healthcare data, we can support discovery by future generations of scientists, and change healthcare for the better.”

Health Data Research UK sites

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[OS1] 

Collective expertise

“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,” said Professor Andrew Morris, Director of Health Data Research UK in a statement.

"The six HDR UK sites, comprising 22 universities and research institutes, 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.” 

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.

Discover more

Read more about the story on the HDR UK website.
Find out more about HDR UK.


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.

Contact the news team

Oana Stroe
Communications Officer
+44 (0)1223 494 369

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