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Health Data Research UK (HDR-UK)

Scotland hosts one of the six Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) sites.

HDR UK was set up in the latter part of 2017 to transform health research by applying cutting-edge computational techniques to dynamic, multidimensional health-relevant data. While the head office is based in London, there are currently six collaborative sites across the UK, based in Wales & Northern Ireland, the Midlands, Cambridge, Oxford, London, and Scotland.

The Scottish site capitalises on our world-leading health and informatics research capabilities and exceptional data assets from Scotland’s population of 5.4 million people.

The site is coordinated by The University of Edinburgh, with key partners in the other five prestigious medical schools – the University of Glasgow, University of Dundee, University of St. Andrews, and the University of Aberdeen) as well as the leading school of pharmacy at Strathclyde University.

It encompasses the UK’s most powerful hub for informatics and computational science research (Edinburgh, REF 2014) and brings multidisciplinary expertise in epidemiology, learning health systems, clinical phenotyping, precision medicine and therapeutics, clinical trials, public health, genomics, molecular pathology, informatics, supercomputing, data systems, software architecture, and advanced, scalable analysis methods including machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing.

In Scotland, we have access to:

  • the UK’s only national prescribing/dispensing and hospital imaging datasets
  • primary care data linkage being developed through the national SPIRE programme
  • multiple disease-specific registries
  • a network of tissue bank repositories.

We can also access consented, accessible research cohorts with bio-samples, linkable to these routine data and tissue resources. Examples include:

  • Generation Scotland (25,000 adults)
  • UK Biobank (500,000 adults [36,000 in Scotland])
  • SHARE (a rapidly growing research register of >200,000 people, with consent for recontact and for storage and analysis of spare blood from routine NHS laboratory testing).

We also have the capacity to link health data to diverse, cross-sectoral, national datasets – such as census, education, and crime and justice data. Scotland’s electronic Data Research and Innovation Service (eDRIS) enables linkage and secure data transfer or access for analysis in our national data safe haven, established through a collaboration between the Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) and NHS Scotland.

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