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MRC support for health informatics research

In addition to supporting the establishment of the Farr Institute, the MRC has committed support to a Farr-managed UK Health Informatics Research Network (UKHIRN). The Network is designed to add value to the Farr Institute by bringing together expertise and partners from across the UK to tackle shared challenges and issues in health informatics research. Together UKHIRN and the Farr Institute aim to transform the landscape of health informatics and bring about significant health and economic benefits for the UK.

In early 2014, the MRC announced a Medical Bioinformatics Initiative which committed £39m to support six strategic awards to combine clinical, health and bioinformatics data. The aims of this initiative were to develop skills in using datasets, provide career opportunities and to support tools, technologies and infrastructure for large-scale data use.

The awardees included:

  • Leeds MRC Medical Bioinformatics Centre
  • University of Oxford Big Data Institute
  • MRC/UVRI Medical Informatics Centre at the MRC/UVRI Uganda Research Unit
  • The MRC Consortium for Medical Microbial Bioinformatics led by Warwick
  • The Medical Bioinformatics partnership led by Imperial College London
  • University College London Partners, which includes the Francis Crick Institute

The combined support for the Farr Institute, UKHIRN and medical bioinformatics initiative is shown in Figure 23, with the recent announcement of £37.5m to establish the new Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) institute in 2016/17 (pale bar).

Figure 24 - Informatics research awards, commitment and expenditure made in the past five years


Figure 24 - Informatics research awards, commitment and expenditure made in the past five years

All health informatics awards included were made in 2012/13-2013/14 running for approximately five years (i.e. to 2019/20). Initial costs to establish the four main Farr Institute eHIRC sites resulted in the majority of expenditure within 2014/15. In 2016/17 MRC has committed another £37.5m to further support health informatics research.