BHF launches £10m national cardiovascular data science centre


The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has launched a £10m national data science centre to drive new research into the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease.

Working in partnership with the NHS, clinicians and researchers, the BHF Data Science Centre will use big data analytics to explore new strategies for addressing “the most pressing challenges in heart and circulatory health research”.

The centre will draw data from NHS medical records, national registries and other relevant datasets with the aim of discovering new therapies and medical breakthroughs.

Its work will be underpinned by Health Data Research UK (HDRUK’s) secure health data infrastructure, drawing from its network of Health Data Research Hubs.

Professor Cathie Sudlow, director of the BHF Data Science Centre, said: “As a doctor who has had the privilege of caring for patients, as well as conducting and enabling research studies that rely on large-scale patient data, I’m delighted to be leading this new centre.

“This new centre provides the UK with an unprecedented opportunity to use data for research that will deliver strategies for prevention, innovative new therapies and medical breakthroughs that will ultimately improve the lives of people affected by cardiovascular disease.”

Rather than hold data itself, the BHF Data Science Centre will work with HDRUK data controllers to help researchers from the NHS, academia and industry connect the UK’s “large-scale and diverse” cardiovascular data distributed across various entities.

The ultimate aim of the centre is drive research that will lead to better cardiovascular health services, provide patients and health professionals with the tools to make better decisions, and accelerate medical discoveries to patients in the UK.

It follows news in August that the Department of Health and Social Care is exploring explore how analytics and data-driven technologies can deliver personalised health advice to patients.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, BHF medical director, said the new data science centre had “the potential to revolutionise the diagnosis, treatment and care of people living with heart and circulatory disease.”

He added: “The UK is blessed with many world-class heart and circulatory disease researchers, spanning a wide range of disciplines. But, as we enter the era of digital medicine, there’s a growing need to foster excellence in data science.

“At the BHF, we recognise the enormous potential of data science and want to create an environment where we can realise that potential. That’s why we’re working with the health research community, key stakeholders, professional bodies and UK data controllers to create the BHF Data Science Centre.”

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