About us

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK)

The MRC is leading on the establishment of a multi-funder UK institute for health and biomedical informatics research to transform the UK medical informatics research landscape. It will be a national, interdisciplinary research institute that will capitalise on the UK’s renowned data resources and research strengths.

Informatics provides a powerful approach to improving the monitoring of population health and prevention, providing novel insights into disease pathways and patient care, and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of health and biomedical research.

Since 2012 the MRC has invested £100m in informatics infrastructure through the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research and six major MRC Medical Bioinformatics Awards to enable a dramatic change in the use of large patient and research data sets.

Building on the success of these initiatives, the MRC will lead on the establishment of a multi-funder UK institute for health and biomedical informatics research. The MRC will invest £37.5m over five years which represents a significant increase in strategic support for this area. The institute will be delivered in partnership; with the health research departments of England, Scotland and Wales, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Wellcome, and British Heart Foundation.  A number of other charity, government and industry partners have also pledged their support and it is anticipated that additional organisations will participate in this ambitious endeavour.

Ambition

The Institute will develop the capacity (people and skills) and methods to accelerate the pace and scale of health and biomedical data science to deliver a step change in UK capabilities.

Open, inclusive and independent, the institute will deliver world-leading research, driven by cutting-edge data science, focused on the most pressing health research challenges. It will have a mission to:

  • Provide national leadership to advance the UK research base
  • Develop interdisciplinary skills and capacity
  • Develop cross cutting analytical methods, tools and standards
  • Develop secure interoperable research environments and data flows
  • Develop partnerships to facilitate the rapid application of the institute’s research 

The institute’s research will maximise the use of biological, clinical, environmental and social data sources, addressing research challenges that require a depth and scale of data that cannot be achieved through individual research programmes. Public engagement and involvement will be placed at the heart of the institute’s research.

Structure and institute sites

The HDR-UK will be geographically distributed across a number of centres of excellence throughout the UK, with its core budget and scientific direction under the control of the Director. This organisational structure will capitalise on the existing distributed strengths in health and biomedical informatics, computer science, statistics and mathematics, and the UK-wide infrastructure and capabilities established through the Farr Institute and MRC Medical Bioinformatics Awards.

The institute will connect and co-ordinate national research programmes across its sites, providing a cohesive informatics strategy and delivering benefit for the wider UK research community. It will also establish mutually beneficial partnerships with other UK research institutes and programmes, as well as charity, industry and international collaborators.

Dr Graham Spittle, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of the Software Group at IBM and member of the Prime Minister’s Council of Science and Technology, will be the interim Chair of the new institute.

The MRC will be inviting statements of interest from Research Organisations who wish to participate in the institute and this webpage will be updated with further information regarding this shortly.

Leadership 

On Thursday 23 March 2017, the MRC announced the appointment of Professor Andrew Morris as the Director of Health Data Research UK (HDR UK).  Professor Morris was chosen by expert and lay panels following an open international search led by the MRC. He is a world leader in the field whose research has advanced the use of health informatics in the UK and beyond.

Dr Graham Spittle, Chief Technology Officer and Vice President of the Software Group at IBM and member of the Prime Minister’s Council of Science and Technology, will be the Chair-elect of the new institute.

The first steps for the new Director will be to develop a strategic plan and set research priorities for the institute, identifying the infrastructure and methodological development needed to address complex research challenges that will improve health and care for patients and the public, across the UK. For more information see the Director Recruitment information (PDF, 5.95MB).