U.K. consortium funds 4 new e-health centers

A consortium of 10 U.K. government and charitable organizations has made a 19 million pound (24.15 million euro) investment to establish four e-health research centers of excellence.

The new centers will be located in London, Manchester, Dundee, and Swansea.

The four centers will investigate healthcare conditions that include cancer, cardiovascular disease, child and maternal health, diabetes, and obesity. They are scheduled to open in late 2012, and will harness the electronic health records (EHRs) of the U.K. to improve patient care and public health.

The centers will undertake research that links EHRs with other forms of research and routinely collected data. They will make use of patient datasets available through the Clinical Practice Research Datalink, a 60 million pound (76 million euro) service announced by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency and the National Institute for Health Research. By combining clinical, research, and social data, researchers will attempt to identify more effective treatments, improve drug safety, assess risks to public health, and study the causes of disease and disability.

In addition to communicating with the public, the centers are expected to be points of contact for industry, the U.K.'s National Health Service (NHS), and governmental policymakers.

A network will be established to encourage wider collaborations among U.K. and international researchers to facilitate effective links between different types of health and social datasets. The centers will also offer career development and training opportunities for researchers who use health records.

The members of the E-Health Research Initiative who made the donation include Arthritis Research U.K., British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research U.K., the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government Health Directorates, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health research, the National Institute for Social Care and Health Research of the Welsh Government, and the Wellcome Trust.

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