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20th July 2021

Health Data – the key driver to enhance cancer research and outcomes

DATA-CAN, the Northern Health Science Alliance and the Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland held a virtual seminar on health data research.

Last month, DATA-CAN came together with the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) and the Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland (HIRANI) in a virtual seminar to talk about the role of health data research in enhancing cancer research, improving patient outcomes and driving innovation.

‘Health Data – the key driver to enhance cancer research and outcomes’ on 29 June 2021, was a fascinating introduction to the work of Health Data Research UK across the whole country and the role of the health data research hubs, specifically DATA-CAN, the UK’s Health Data Research Hub for Cancer. Bringing together partners in industry, life sciences, the NHS, data science, charities and academia, the event explored how inter-sectoral and cross-regional partnerships can drive an enhanced research and innovation agenda.

For those who missed it (or those who would like a reminder) the following provides a small flavour of the seminar, including video recordings from the event itself.

Partners in the north of England and Northern Ireland

The Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA) is the North of England’s health partnership, across a population of 16 million people, bringing together ten universities, ten research-intensive NHS trusts and four Academic Health Science Networks. Their vision is to achieve a healthy and prosperous north, powered by excellence in research and innovation across healthcare and academia, with industry engagement and citizen involvement as key drivers.

The Health Innovation Research Alliance Northern Ireland (HIRANI) is an alliance of universities, health organisations and other industry bodies, established to drive and support ambitious growth in Northern Ireland’s Life and Health Sciences sector.

Watch Video 1 – Introduction and scene setting

Role of Health Data Research UK

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) is the national institute for health data science. Working with the data hubs across the country, as well as partners in the NHS, academia and industry, it is united the UK’s health data to improve people’s lives.

In the north of England, HDR UK North, also known as the Northern Better Care Partnership, serves over 16 million people and brings together world-class universities, digitally-enabled NHS institutions and academic health science systems. The partnership has initially focused on better care for elderly people living with a frailty and is using data and analysis to optimise care. HDR UK Wales Northern Ireland share a complementary interest in modernising public health through data science and enabling precision medicine research and delivery through data research and artificial intelligence.

Watch Video 2 – Overview of HDR UK across the UK

Impact of DATA-CAN – the UK’s Health Data Research Hub for Cancer

As the only data hub solely focused on cancer, DATA-CAN’s aim is to make high quality health data more accessible for cancer researchers and health professionals, to help them perform research into new diagnostic tools and treatments to improve care and outcomes for people with cancer. Our scientific director, commercial lead and chief data officer presented case studies at the seminar highlighting the ways that we are working with partners across the NHS, academia and industry to make impactful changes in cancer services and treatment. These include projects looking at the national and international impact of Covid-19 on cancer; the ways that we are improving data quality and access, including through a national cancer Trusted Research Environment (TRE); and our work with industry partners, including to improve treatment options for early triple negative breast cancer.

Watch Video 3 – DATA-CAN case studies

Putting patients at the heart of data research

DATA-CAN actively works in genuine partnership with patients and carers to make sure that health data is used transparently and responsibly. Patients are actively involved in our decision-making processes to help make sure that health data is used responsibly and that the benefits of improving access to data for researchers are returned to the NHS and to citizens. Our Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement lead, Chris Carrigan, joined Margaret Grayson, Chair of the Northern Ireland Cancer Research Consumer Forum, to talk about the benefits to researchers, industry and, of course, patients themselves, in engaging patients in health data research.

Watch Video 4 – Working with patients and the public

All three organisations (DATA-CAN, the NHSA and HIRANI) will continue to work together to explore collaborations between industry, the NHS and academia to enhance health data research and drive innovation across the UK.

If you would like to connect with DATA-CAN, the NHSA or HIRANI, please do get in touch.