College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine

£54m drive to improve health with data research

Experts at the University of Edinburgh are to lead the Scottish element of a UK-wide initiative to address healthcare challenges by harnessing the power of data science.

The initiative – called Health Data Research UK – sees £30 million funding allocated to six sites across the UK, including Scotland.

Disease treatment

Researchers aim to make scientific discoveries from health data that will improve the way diseases such as cancer and heart disease are diagnosed and treated.

The initiative will also train a new generation of data scientists.

Scottish expertise

The Scottish contribution will be led by the University of Edinburgh alongside the Universities of Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Strathclyde and St Andrews.

Professor Cathie Sudlow, who will lead in Scotland, said the announcement aligns with recent investment in the Edinburgh and South-East Scotland City Deal, which aims to make Edinburgh the data science capital of Europe.

This capitalises on our world-leading health and informatics research capabilities and Scotland’s exceptional data assets. This major award from Health Data Research UK gives us a great opportunity to demonstrate collaborative working across Scotland to capitalise on the huge potential of data science in health.

Professor Cathie SudlowHead of the Centre for Medical Informatics at the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute

Joint investment

Health Data Research UK is a joint investment co-ordinated by the Medical Research Council, working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Also involved are Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Welsh Government), Health and Social Care Research and Development Division (Public Health Agency, Northern Ireland), Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health and Social Care Directorates and Wellcome.

Talent programme

A further £24 million will be invested in upcoming activities, including a Future Talent Programme and work to address targeted data research challenges through additional partnership sites. 


By working together and with NHS and industry partners to the highest ethical standards, our vision is to harness data science on a national scale. This will unleash the potential for data and technologies to drive breakthroughs in medical research, improving the way we are able to pr event, detect and diagnose diseases like cancer, heart disease and asthma.

Professor Andrew MorrisDirector, Health Data Research UK

Related links

Health Data Research UK

Centre for Medical Informatics

Usher Institute