London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea are to be the locations of four Cancer Research Centres of Excellence under a new £19 million scheme to improve patient care and public health and keep the UK at the forefront of global medical research.
Funded by government and charitable organisations, each location will have an ‘e-Health research’ Centre which will have researchers tasked with becoming experts at analysing UK health information and how such data can be best utilised.
The Centres will focus on conditions including cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
Researchers will use data to try to identify more effective treatments, improve drug safety, assess risks to public health and study the causes of diseases and disability.
Medical Research Council Chief Executive Professor Sir John Savill said: “This is a watershed moment for data research and for the Medical Research Council, which I believe will deliver the benefits of e-health research, improving patient care over the coming years.
“The way in which the partner organisations have come together to invest in e-health underpins its importance and will help establish the UK as a world leader in this field.”
The consortium behind the scheme, led by the Medical Research Council and also involving Cancer Research UK, intends to form a network to capitalise on the expertise in the Centres, and to encourage wider collaborations among UK and international researchers.
Dr Fiona Reddington, Cancer Research UK’s head of clinical and population research funding, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership to support these Centres of Excellence in e-Health. This is an exciting time for e-Health research as linking data becomes an increasingly important and routine way in which science is undertaken.
“The more we learn about cancer the more its complexity is revealed and it is increasingly clear that further progress depends significantly on sharing and integrating the vast amounts of data being generated.
“These Centres provide an opportunity to develop the next generation of researchers in this field and to allow researchers to undertake ground-breaking research due to the availability of secure, high-quality data in a way that has not been previously possible.”