HELICAL is a collaborative project involving 23 partners across Europe linking healthcare data in autoimmune disease, funded by the H2020 ITN, led by Prof Mark Little (TCD).


HELICAL Researchers exploit recent advances in data science to link research datasets with longitudinal healthcare records, based on the robust ethical foundation required for linkage studies using near-patient data, to address key experimental questions.

Health data Linkage for Clinical benefit is a training network comprising 17 academic and 9 non-academic/industry partners for early-stage researchers in the field of Healthcare Data Linkage in the GDPR era. European researchers have made leading contributions to the large genomic, transcriptomic and clinical datasets from patients with chronic diseases. Advances in information science provide unprecedented opportunities for using these datasets to elucidate the complex biology of these disorders, their influence by environmental triggers, and to personalise their management.

The exploitation of these opportunities is limited by a shortage of researchers with the required informatics skills and knowledge of requisite data protection principles. HELICAL addresses this unmet need by developing a trans-sectoral and interdisciplinary programme with training in analysis of large datasets, using autoimmune vasculitis as a paradigm, as comprehensive biological and clinical datasets are already available.

This programme is delivered through a partnership of Academic and Industry researchers with expertise in basic biomedical research, epidemiology, statistics, machine learning, health data governance and ethics. 

The 36-month training programme will focus on the application of informatics to such data sets to gain new biological insights as well as the translation of biological into practical clinical outputs. It also aims to develop strategies to manage the ethical constraints imposed on such studies. The end date of this project will be 22 December 2022 and the results will have the potential for transforming healthcare in the field of autoimmune disease. The training provided addresses a key skills gap in the European workforce and should make the ESR eminently employable in academic, industrial and clinical sectors.