UK and Chinese scientists link on data science project

The University of Birmingham has announced its data science experts have signed an agreement to join forces with one of China’s best and biggest hospitals to gather, organise and analyse patient information under related laws and regulations from both countries and help improve healthcare for thousands of people.

Under the leadership of the Centre for Computational Biology researchers from the University of Birmingham are partnering with scientists and healthcare professionals of West China Hospital, Sichuan University and its five million outpatients per year, to help link cutting edge omics data with clinical information across a range of conditions.

This collaborative effort will enable state of the art research for both the immediate benefit of the patients involved, as well as an improved understanding of the aetiology of diseases. By using data science for life sciences the team can tap into a huge amount of medical information that will allow them to better understand a range of conditions through work in precision medicine, translational medicine and rare diseases.

The agreement was signed by Professor Jon Frampton, Director of the University of Birmingham’s China Institute, who said “The University of Birmingham is a world leader in data sciences and our partnership with West China Hospital will help to increase medical understanding and improve outcomes for thousands of patients in China. Our expertise in data sciences is reflected in the University being invited to join The Alan Turing Institute. We very much hope to establish a collaboration in Chengdu that allows our experts to solve major health problems facing China and the wider world.”

Using data science will allow the University of Birmingham and West China Hospital to understand a condition in the context of relatively large numbers of people. Precision medicine allows doctors to group patients by condition and tailor treatment to individual characteristics of that condition. Translational medicine joins medical research disciplines with industry to accelerate development of innovations into treatments that directly benefit healthcare, speeding up the translation of new discoveries into health applications.

Professor Jean-Baptiste Cazier is Director of the Centre for Computational Biology at the University of Birmingham, and lead for the University of Birmingham’s Data Intensive Life Sciences programme area for the Alan Turing Institute. He said “We have the opportunity to work with West China Hospital with their invaluable knowledge in their patients’ conditions and use our data science expertise in fields ranging from Precision Medicine and Rare Diseases to Translational Medicine to better understand a broad range of conditions and help deliver the right drugs to the right people.”

As part of Birmingham Health Partners, the University of Birmingham will lead one of six new MRC research sites across the UK created as part of a £54m project funded by Health Data Research UK to address challenging healthcare issues through use of data science, improving diagnosis, refining prognosis and personalising treatment.

Professor Georgios Gkoutos, associate Director of the Health Data Research UK, said “This Joint Research Institute and our collaboration with the West China Hospital offers the ideal setting to unleash the potential for data and technologies to achieve the breakthrough of ‘Translational Medicine to Precision Medicine’ and revolutionise the way we are able to prevent, detect and diagnose.”

Professor Wan Xuehong, Executive Vice President of West China Hospital, Sichuan University, said ”I believe that through the strong alliance with West China Hospital and Birmingham University, we will make breakthroughs in rare diseases, precision medicine, and translational medicine, etc., for the benefit of people in both countries and even the world.”

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