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UK Pumps $30M into Health Informatics Institute

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK's Medical Research Council will invest £20 million ($30.5 million) in capital funding to create a new multicenter informatics research institute that will support the use of patient and research data, the Minister for Science and Universities David Willetts said today.

The Farr Institute, named after medical statistician William Farr, will have major centers in London, Dundee, Manchester, and Swansea, and will link together 19 UK universities in a network. It will build upon an existing cluster of four e-health informatics centers that already has received £19 million from government research councils and charities.

The idea is to share expertise and resources across disciplines to scale up the UK's health informatics capabilities for clinical care and research.

Farr staffers will include medical, population, and computer scientists who will work together to interpret health data sets in research environments, while protecting patient confidentiality, and they plan to develop methods for sharing, combining, and analyzing diverse data sets.

The MRC expects that this concentration of funding and resources will create a health informatics research base that also will enable collaborations with information technology and pharmaceutical companies. Innovations in e-health research and practice also will lead to the development of new preventative medicine, better diagnostics and drugs, and improvement in the quality of care provided by the National Health Service, said the MRC.

The University of Manchester said today that it will receive £5 million for its branch of the Farr, which will be based in a now-empty building that will be refurbished into a research center. Manchester said its branch will host a staff of around 50, consisting of investigators who are now spread across various sites in Manchester.