Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research

Aryelly Rodriguez

Project: Are anonymised databases truly anonymous?

PhD overview

PhD Title: Are anonymised databases truly anonymous?

Funded by: University of Edinburgh

Supervisors: Professor Steff Lewis, Professor Christopher Weir, Professor Sandra Eldridge 

Based at: University of Edinburgh


headshot of Aryelly Rodriguez
Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research PhD student Aryelly Rodriguez

Funders, regulators and publishers are increasingly requesting that clinical researchers share their research data with others, once the primary analysis has been completed. Existing data could be used to expand medical and scientific knowledge by:

  • Investigating questions outside the original study scope
  • Facilitating individual participant data (IPD) meta-analysis
  • Verification of results
  • Investigating novel methodologies for data analysis.

IPD can only be shared if it is fully anonymised. However, it is hard to completely anonymise data while still leaving it in a usable form. Methods for data anonymization are available but it is not known whether study participants could potentially be re-identified, and in what circumstances re-identification is more likely.

This PhD project aims to:

  • Investigate whether individual participants can be re-identified from a range of datasets that have been anonymised and made available for sharing,
  • Identify factors that could increase the risk of re-identification of a dataset.
  • Develop evidence-based recommendations on anonymization techniques and data security.

About me

I am currently statistician at the Edinbugh Clinical Trials Unit (ECTU) and my area of specialisation is randomised control trials (RCT). My main research interests include methodological improvement/techniques for the performance of more efficient clinical trials and RCT data sharing. I have also worked in the private sector as a statistician in clinical trials and medical devices.


For an updated list, please visit Aryelly's University of Edinburgh research profile

Aryelly Rodriguez - Research Profile 


This work is funded by CMVM/UoE and it is carried out with the support of the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research [AUK-AC-2012-01].