European researchers have significantly contributed to the large genomic, transcriptomic and clinical data sets assembled from patients with chronic diseases. Advances in information science provide opportunities for increased use of these data sets. However, few researchers have the needed informatics skills and knowledge of the latest data protection principles.
The EU-funded Health Data Linkage for Clinical Benefit project (HELICAL), co-ordinated by ADAPT researcher Mark Little, will develop an interdisciplinary training programme for 15 PhD students and will use autoimmune vasculitis as a paradigm to provide training in data analysis. 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.