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Healthcare Informatics, Genomics/Omics and Data Science

The aim of our Healthcare Informatics, Genomics/Omics, Data Science (HIGODS) theme is to improve health through data.  We aim to deliver patient centred analytics across a wide range of clinical record, genetic, imaging and mobile and wearable data for patient benefit. ‘Data-based medicine’ has the opportunity to improve the precision, quality, outcomes and efficiency of healthcare and to accelerate drug discovery.

Our theme will launch new initiatives in:

Developing Clinical Research Informatics capability within the NHS: seizing the opportunity provided by the EPIC procurement at UCLH, and delivering novel methods for evaluating regulatory pathways, including NICE recommendations.

Real time analytics for safety and quality of care: we will develop some of the core infrastructure to enable use of ‘high velocity’ data, with applications in exemplar clinical areas.

About Me: extending the benefits of data and genomic insights to all NHS patients.  This will go beyond previous efforts which have been focused on a particular disease and seek to ‘give back’ results of immediate value to patients.  This will lead to data-driven (omic) drug-target identification/validation and approaches to precision medicine.

Bringing big data to a wider range of researchers: we will develop tools and methods to make large scale national health record data (e.g. CALIBER), biobanked data (e.g. UK Biobank) and other forms of data more readily analysable by other researchers.

Human Phenome Project: the cradle to grave nature of health records, complemented by spells of richer phenotypic information from wearables, or from multi-omics, allows examination of the longitudinal time sequence of health events and diseases, clusters and sub-types of diseases.   Methods to being to approach this ambitious and fundamental challenge, portable internationally, will be developed.

Taken together with collaboration with other themes, HIGODS will further develop the Local Digital Health Economy, consistent with UK Life Sciences Strategy; and the new multi-funder Health Data Research UK institute.

HIGODS, as a cross cutting theme, is already developing joint infrastructure and research projects across multiple disease themes, and with the Healthcare Engineering and Imaging theme.

Clinical Research Informatics Unit:

The BRC Clinical Research Informatics (CRI) unit at UCL/UCLH opened in 2017 to provide a more advanced approach and better use of information to support one of the world’s leading teaching hospitals.

The facility is a partnership between UCLH and UCL with research consent models, building research capacity into Electronic Health Records with integrated omics, wearables, bioinformatics, machine learning and artificial intelligence; improving current research commitments as well as allowing potential new research outcomes to be developed. 

UCLH is one of five NHS trusts with the largest BRCs collaborating in the NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative (HIC) programme, for which the initial objective was to demonstrate how sharing of NHS clinical information, held electronically, could facilitate more effective clinical research, leading to benefits for patients and the public, researchers and NHS staff.

One of the CRI’s priorities is to continue the internal development of a sustainable in-house foundation in order to allow various research themes to grow and achieve their objectives. It is essential to build a viable platform, continue the work in progress (data warehouse, metadata catalogue) and improve our current research informatics capabilities.  Also to continue the proof of concept infrastructure for the management of biomedical research data, and support the elements of the research data life-cycle that must be addressed within the context of UCLH prior to data being made available to academic researchers. 

The CRI proposes a more sophisticated approach and an innovative vision to our research department at UCL that allows expansion and scalability to a diversity of projects. The CRI will not only continue working on existing projects, such as the HIC programme, but will also involve new collaborative developments with the UCL BioResource, Genomics England, UCL Partners; in areas such as Electronic Health Records and trials; and in innovative research initiatives such as wearables, the research register and the patient portal.