Swansea scoops £2.4 million in funding renewal for dementia data portal

Swansea University has been awarded a funding boost of £2.4 million to continue its development of a dementia data portal.

The Dementias Platform UK (DPUK) Data Portal – a Trusted Research Environment (TRE) – aims to be a ‘world-class data repository’ to support research into dementia.

Its goal is to ‘accelerate progress’ within the research sector through a focus on the identification of early signs of disease, and by supporting the translation of discoveries into new treatments and preventative strategies.

The platform is designed by the Population Data Science team at Swansea and its latest funding renewal is part of a multi-million-pound investment from the UK’s Medical Research Council (MRC), along with industry and third sector partners.

Providing a ‘repository and analysis environment for dementia-optimised cohort data’, the DPUK Data Portal is free to use for trusted researchers anywhere in the world. It currently offers ‘rapid online access’ to ‘multi-modal data from more than 50 population and clinical cohort studies’ and 3.5 million participants.

According to the university, the next phase of the project will include alignment with other similar international data repositories through the Alzheimer’s disease Data Initiative, as well as work in partnership with Health Data Research UK to link NHS patient electronic health records to the DPUK’s cohort data.

Professor John Gallacher, Director of DPUK and Professor of Cognitive Health at Oxford University, said of the news: “We are delighted to be able to confirm our renewed MRC funding, which means that many more scientists will have access to the technology, support and research resources needed to transform our understanding of dementia.

“Dementia is one of the biggest public health challenges facing us globally in the 21st century, and we believe DPUK’s ethos of collaboration and innovation will help engineer the breakthroughs in early detection and treatment that we urgently need.”

A new Trials Delivery Framework will also be used to enable a ‘nationwide network’ to recruit and match patients to the right studies, in partnership with NIHR’s Join Dementia Research initiative and the Scottish Brain Health Register.

While, in association with the UK Dementia Research Institute, Alzheimer’s Research UK, and the Alzheimer’s Society, an Experimental Medicine Incubator will support research into a number of areas, including synapses loss, brain inflammation triggers, and ways to prevent vascular dementia.

In other data news, the UK Health Data Alliance recently published its principles and best practices for forming Trusted Research Environments (TRE), while Scotland also revealed its plans for a new national data strategy, with a remit to identify priorities for improvement and collaborative working, sharing of best practice, and embedding new ways of working.