BREATHE - Health Data Research Hub for Respiratory Health


Health Data Research UK launches transformational new search functionality

New “Cohort Discovery” tool allows health researchers to search for and assess data to discover research-specific population cohorts across multiple datasets.

Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), the national institute for health data science, today launches new transformational search functionality, available on the HDR Innovation Gateway - “Cohort Discovery”. Cohort Discovery is a new tool that allows researchers to search by specific population criteria across multiple datasets.

HDR Innovation Gateway

The UK is home to a vast number and a rich resource of health datasets. As part of HDR UK’s mission to unite these, a large number are already available for researchers to discover and request access to, safely and securely, via the HDR Innovation Gateway – the UK’s unified platform for data discovery and access. Users of the Gateway are already able to search via keywords and can drill down further by using filters or “Collections” which group resources around specific research themes and topics.

This new functionality co-developed by HDR UK, University of Nottingham, BC Platforms (BCP), PA Consulting and the CO-CONNECT project allows users to search by specific cohorts or demographic groups. For example, women in England between the ages of 18 and 30, with asthma that do not smoke.

This adds an extra layer and dimension to data discovery provided by the Gateway, enhancing the utility of a number of these datasets even further; and enabling new levels of analysis and insights that will ultimately feed through to the front line of improved patient care.

Safe, secure

The Cohort Discovery tool also enables this to be done in a fast, secure, de-identified and ethical way through the continued use of Trusted Research Environments – safe, secure locations to access and analyse the data, without the need to move it around. For the organisations who host the datasets themselves (“data custodians”), Cohort Discovery allows them to provide access approvals much more quickly than before; but crucially to retain control to who has access to the data.

Four initial core datasets

Cohort Discovery is being launched in April 2021 across four core datasets, with inclusion of further datasets and developments through the year. One of the initial datasets available for Cohort Discovery, managed by BREATHE, is “GASP” - Genetics of Asthma Severity & Phenotypes.

Register for the HDR Innovation Gateway and see the new Cohort Discovery in action


This is a genuine gamechanger for health research. Being able to search for specific demographic cohorts across multiple datasets opens up a vast landscape to really interesting and detailed analysis. The potential to uncover insights that can improve the health of specific groups in society is really exciting.

Professor Susan HopkinsSenior Medical Advisor at Public Health England

It is great to see this tool up and running at scale and available for researchers across the UK and globally. For me it is a phenomenal example of the power of collaboration in health research – to take an initial idea that through development, support, the application of great technology and hard work, becomes something tangible, now playing a part in supporting the UK’s response to COVID-19.

Cohort Discovery is the culmination of a journey that started over five years ago and a concept developed while I was at the UK Tissue Directory and Coordination Centre (UKCRC), and then the University of Nottingham.

Based on their early support, software expertise from BC Platforms, and the acceleration from working with HDR UK to develop the ATLAS project, Cohort Discovery opens up the UK's health data resources, removing barriers between datasets and accelerating the journey to carry out impactful research.

Dr Philip QuinlanHead of the Digital Research Service at the University of Nottingham

This functionality enables us to perform analysis in whole new way and, as we continue to add more datasets into the HDR Innovation Gateway, will be a fantastic and growing asset for the research community.

Dr Susheel VarmaDirector of Engineering, Health Data Research UK

Links to further information

HDR Innovation Gateway

CO-CONNECT website

CO-CONNECT launch press release

CO-CONNECT launch BREATHE news story

Initial datasets available for Cohort Discovery

“GASP” - Genetics of Asthma Severity & Phenotypes (BREATHE HDR UK Hub)

“MATCH” - Health care workers immunity to COVID-19 (University of Dundee)

“PANTHER” - PANdemic Tracking of Healthcare woRkers (University of Nottingham)

“ACE2” - Asymptomatic COVID-19 in Education (University of Nottingham)