Writing for the University of Oxford blog, Professor Gallacher points to how COVID-19 has exposed the varied models and distributed data on which health policy is developed. He highlights a need for agile and flexible global data access, and the role that data repository platforms such as the Data Portal take in this context.
John writes: “Perhaps the most controversial aspect of COVID has been ‘disease modelling’ – the prediction of what will happen to the disease under different scenarios with governments around the world basing policy on diverse models.
“COVID apart, as emerging research questions become more complex, the need for infrastructure to enable agile and flexible data access becomes acute.”
With health data transforming how researchers tackle pressing public health challenges, platforms for data sharing are democratising how researchers access data and speed disease prevention and treatment.
"The repository approach increases efficiency. By streamlining procedures, it reduces the time required for data access. By bringing scientists to the data, it removes the need for repeated data transfer. It also democratises scientific opportunity through allowing researchers access on the Data Portal to all state-of-the-art software for data analysis at no cost. Whether you live in Manchester or Malawi, if you have a great idea, you can test it on some of the world’s best data (even in lockdown)."
John goes on to describe the some of the key challenges in health research today – management of large datasets, data transfer and the need to compare very different sources of evidence. It is these challenges that the Data Portal is designed to face. In its 18 months of operation, users have made around 600 data access applications and with a number of studies well under way. Although developed to accelerate dementia research, the Data Portal is a generic solution that can be used to study many common diseases.
DPUK Data Portal
The Early experience and dementia research programme is currently the largest Data Portal study into dementia.