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UK Awards $52M to Ramp up National Biomedical Informatics Base

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The UK's Medical Research Council announced it has invested £32 million ($52.2 million) to fund five multi-partner initiatives seeking to develop new biomedical informatics tools, infrastructure, and collaborations, and expand career opportunities for bioinformaticians.

The funding under the medical bioinformatics initiative, which is expected to eventually total £50 million, is part of an effort by the UK government to fire up the nation's informatics capabilities and infrastructure, MRC said today.

Last July, the MRC provided £20 million to the Farr Institute to establish a health informatics research institute, which built on the four e-Health Informatics Research Centers that previously received £19 million from a consortium of three Research Councils, three health departments, and four leading medical research charities.

MRC Chief Executive John Savill said in a statement that the funding is part of "a wider MRC strategy to integrate large-scale information about our genetic make-up, our complex biological characteristics, and electronic health records to better understand health and disease."

"The aim is to strengthen the UK's capacity to analyze biomedical data in secure environments so that patients and participants can be reassured that their personal data are safe and may be used to benefit to the whole UK population," he added.

These latest investments include £5.8 million to the University of Leeds MRC Medical Bioinformatics Centre for infrastructure for collaborations; £6 million to the University of Oxford Big Data Institute for analysis methods for large, complex clinical datasets; £8.5 million to the University of Warwick for the MRC Consortium for Medical Microbial Bioinformatics; £8.9 million to University College London for medical bioinformatics and data-driven personalized medicine research; and £2.8 million to the MRC/UVRI Medical Informatics Centre.