CIPHER: Improving health, well-being and wealth through Informatics Research

First Minister Carwyn Jones has visited Swansea University to officially open the new £4.3million Centre for the Improvement of Population Health through e-Records Research (CIPHER).

CIPHERThe centre, led by Professor Ronan Lyons and Professor David Ford from the University’s Institute of Life Science, Medical School, is one of four comprising the Health e-Research Collaboration UK (HeRC UK) – a network of Centres of Excellence in electronic health records research, funded by a £19 million investment by a Medical Research Council-led consortium of 10 UK Government and charity funders.

The vision behind HeRC UK – with centres at Dundee, London, Manchester and Swansea – is to harness UK health data for patient and public benefit and the collaboration has a number of aims relating to scientific research, methodological development, capacity building, public engagement, governance and industrial innovation.

Public understanding of the importance of using health data for research is crucial to advancing drug discovery and improving patient care.  The four new Centres of Excellence will play an active role in engaging with the public to promote better understanding of the benefits of privacy protecting e-health records research, and they will also act as a vital point of contact for industry, the NHS and policy makers.

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “Information and Communication Technologies play an important role in delivering better services for patients. This new centre, through linking e-health records with other forms of research and routinely collected data, will benefit patients by using the data to identify more effective treatments and study the causes of diseases and disability.”

Professor Ronan Lyons, Director of CIPHER, said: “We were delighted to welcome the First Minister to officially open this £4.3million international centre at Swansea University, involving co-investigators from 10 universities across the UK, Australia, Canada and Scandinavia.

“CIPHER is designed to undertake research which dramatically shortens the time it takes before new discoveries have an impact on people’s lives. By combining clinical, social and research data, researchers aim to identify more effective treatments, improve drug safety, assess risks to public health and study the causes of diseases and disability.”

Professor David Ford, Deputy Director of CIPHER, added: “CIPHER will focus on research to investigate important topics that place a large burden on the global and UK population such as injury, infection, substance use, psychological problems, obesity, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

“The MRC is creating the Farr Health Informatics Research Institute capitalising on the expertise in the Centres and to encourage wider collaboration among UK and international researchers.

“The Farr Institute will also offer career development and training opportunities to increase the UK’s capacity and capability in research using health records. CIPHER will work closely with the NHS to ensure that NHS and patient benefits are quickly realised.”

For more information on CIPHER visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk/medicine/cipher/, and on the College of Medicine visit http://www.swansea.ac.uk/medicine/.