Two decades of helping life-changing global research and boosting Dundee’s economy: Health Informatics Centre’s special birthday

Published on 28 June 2024

University of Dundee’s Health Informatics Centre (HIC) marked its 20th birthday on Wednesday 26 June with an event at Bonar Hall.

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The Health Informatics Centre (HIC) at the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine is a world leading institution which has shaped and changed thousands of lives through its pioneering secure data management. 

Throughout its two-decade long history, HIC has played an impactful role in public health and patient care. It has helped the NHS contribute to early disease detection, personalised medicine, and better health outcomes directly benefiting the Tayside community and the UK research landscape

With HIC expertise – it’s fair to say the scale of ground-breaking nationwide healthcare research and innovation projects over the last two decades would not have been achieved. Vital de-identified patient data securely managed under robust governance controls by the University of Dundee’s HIC, has helped researchers analyse child dental health, chronic pain causes, diabetes, hypertension and heart disease treatments. 

In just the past month, the world’s first potential therapy for an increasingly common respiratory illness (EMBARC) was identified following a trial led by an expert from the University of Dundee and a global biopharmaceutical company. This would not be possible without the disease registry that HIC provide research access to

Data curated and enabled by HIC also helped researchers better gauge the severity of lung cancer. Study findings, through the use of HIC data samples, showed that more than 5000 people are affected by the disease every year in Scotland and within a year 4000 have died, usually because the diagnosis is made too late for curative treatment.

HIC’s expert technical team have supported significant research findings which have gained international acclaim, showcasing Dundee’s School of Medicine capability to lead in a highly specialised and competitive field.  Its global recognition has attracted top talent, brought prestige to the city and contributed to the local economy – creating local jobs, securing research funding and collaborating with industry.

Their 20th birthday marks a major milestone in HIC’s ongoing journey enabling research with impact.  The celebration will host leading researchers, data scientists, Scottish Government, the NHS, healthcare professionals, and academic experts who have collaborated on ground-breaking projects at HIC. 

Attendees present their cutting-edge research, highlighting how their work has directly contributed to improving patient outcomes, advancing medical knowledge, and informing public health policies. 

With rapid advancement in data technology, the event will also frame the future challenges and opportunities for HIC and Dundee.  It is a celebration of how we mark this 20-year milestone since establishing an advanced research and innovation group focused on health data research. 

Richard Walls, Director of Operations, HIC – Health Informatics Centre – said:

HIC and our expert stakeholders are coming together to celebrate and reflect after 20 years of key research and innovation milestones and discuss future opportunities for the secure use of sensitive data for the public good.

Dr Chris Cole, Director – Alleviate Pain Data Hub and Academic Co-Director, HIC – Health Informatics Centre – said: 

HIC has played a key role in a local, national and UK-wide context on projects engaged in advancing health data science for research.  In particular, in recent years with key flagship projects such as PICTURES / Scottish Medical Imaging, Co-Connect during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the UK pain data hub – Alleviate as part of the HDR UK network”.  

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