The University of Leeds is set to become a partner of The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s prestigious national institute for data science.
The work will be led by the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) with contributions from researchers and data scientists across the University. The work in LIDA sheds new light on health and human behaviour and the action needed to tackle a wide range of health, social and environmental problems.
At a time of great change in the world, there is a national imperative to create an innovative data environment in the UK that will sustain the excellence of the research base, increase productivity and transform the way in which public and private sector organisations do business and provide services.
The University and the Turing have a shared commitment to make great leaps in data science research in order to change the world for the better.
Professor Lisa Roberts, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation said:
“The establishment of LIDA in 2014 put the University of Leeds at the forefront of data science, and it has already become a national asset as a leading research and development institute with the capacity to drive many aspects of the UK Industrial Strategy and to change lives through harnessing the power of data.
“Becoming a university partner of The Alan Turing Institute will provide opportunities for the University’s researchers to work closely with the Institute’s academic, industry and policy partners and undertake the most ambitious, impactful research possible.
“I am confident that The Alan Turing Institute will benefit from LIDA’s interdisciplinary approach and the fantastic engagement we have achieved with national partners across the retail, energy, transport and healthcare sectors.”
LIDA was established with University investment supporting national programmes in Medical Bioinformatics (funded by the Medical Research Council) and the Consumer Data Research Centre (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.)
The Institute has now grown to support a portfolio in excess of £45million of research across the University, and brings together over 150 researchers and data scientists.
In less than three years it has instigated 27 centres, programmes and projects and has been responsible for pioneering research.
In May this year, for example, new research from LIDA and Leeds Institute of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine challenged established medical practice that all heart attack patients should take beta blockers.
It found that heart attack patients who did not have heart failure did not live any longer after being given beta blockers, yet around 95% of patients who fall into this category end up on the medication.
The research, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, raises the possibility that the drugs are being over prescribed, and may burden patients and the NHS with unnecessary medicine costs.
The tool, funded by the Department for Transport, helps prioritise investment in transport planning and is widely seen as representing a step-change in planning strategically to increase cycling.
Dr Michelle Morris from LIDA and Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust is exploring how consumer and lifestyle data can provide fresh perspectives on human behaviour.
They launched a major survey to see if people would be prepared to allow their lifestyle data to be matched against their health records.
The survey aims to gauge whether members of the public support such large-scale data analysis and marks the start of what could be the biggest investigation ever into the interaction between lifestyle and health, with scientists saying it could provide important insights into cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Connecting academic research with external partners in business, government and the third sector, LIDA is matching the world class capabilities of University research with the needs and opportunities of local organisations.
LIDA is investing significant resources in developing data science capability in both academia and industry. Seven MSc courses, an innovative internship programme and the Centre for Doctoral Training in Data Analytics and Society are equipping graduates with the skills to compete in the emerging and rapidly expanding area of data analytics.
In addition, professional learners are able to access the Institute’s programme of short courses and CPD modules.
Professor Mark Birkin, Director of LIDA, said:
“The rapid growth and success of LIDA since 2014 reflects the strengths of our Institute and the importance of the data science agenda.
“The proposed new partnership between the University of Leeds and The Alan Turing Institute will provide the platform for further acceleration as LIDA seeks to cater for the needs of future generations of students, researchers and business leaders.”
Alan Wilson, CEO of The Alan Turing Institute said:
“We are extending our university network in recognition of our role as a national institute and because we believe that increasing collaboration between researchers and private, public and third sector organisations will enable the UK to undertake the most ambitious, impactful research possible.
“We are delighted to be in discussions with Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle and Queen Mary University of London about joining the Institute network, and we see this as an important first step in a much wider programme of engagement with the university sector in the UK and, over time, internationally.”
Subject to signing a partnership agreement, it is anticipated that the new university partners will be working with the Institute to develop collaborative programmes of research from early 2018.