The Prime Minister, David Cameron, was at Oxford University today to mark the launch of a centre that will put the UK at the forefront of revolutionising healthcare through 'big data' and better drug discovery. The new Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery is supported by a £20m gift from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, announced today, and £10m for big data research from the Higher Education Funding Council for England, also newly announced today.
The potential of 'big data' to revolutionise health research and offer patients better, safer and more personalised treatments will be a major focus of the centre, which will be unique worldwide in providing a dedicated centre of excellence in the emerging field of big data in medicine.
The new Li Ka Shing Centre is being developed in two phases. The first phase will use high-throughput biology to define better drug targets in collaboration with industry, addressing a critical 'blockage' in the existing drug development process. The second phase will focus on the analysis of large data sets, bringing together leading researchers from across genetics, epidemiology and public health, clinical medicine, computer science and IT, statistics and bioinformatics.
The Prime Minister said:
"I am delighted to be backing our medical science sector and supporting the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery, which has the potential to revolutionise medical research and healthcare in this country and beyond.
"The Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery will pioneer new advances in the analysis of medical data which can help scientists to better understand human disease and its treatment.
"This will help to further develop a strong and competitive science and research base in this country which is vital for the UK to compete and thrive in the global race."
Sir Ka-shing Li said:
"What will happen here is more than the promise of harnessing the power of a data-intensive revolution to improve health care. The work of this centre will identify innovative ways to increase access to health care while lessening the burden of cost. It will free up resources for much needed investments in educational opportunities. And it will lead to new and deeper competencies that are pragmatic – precise solutions to sustain hope and stability today and lead to even greater discoveries tomorrow."
The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said:
"Big data will transform the way we treat patients and understand disease in the coming decades. We are collecting much of this data already. We owe it to ourselves to make full use of it and deliver more effective treatments for all of us as patients. The Li Ka Shing Centre, and this enormously generous gift which underpins it, along with continued public investment, will be instrumental in driving this research forward."
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