March 26, 2024

DARE UK at Health Data Research UK Conference 2024

A reflective piece on DARE UK’s outing at the Health Data Research UK Conference 2024: The Grand Challenges in Health Data highlighting key innovations from the programme and its funded initiatives.

The Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) Conference 2024 was a convergence of ideas, innovations, and aspirations. It brought together scientists, technologists, industry experts, funders, policymakers, patients, and the public, all united by a common goal—to harness the power of data for better healthcare outcomes. 

Held from March 5th to 6th, 2024, at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds, UK, the conference presented some of the latest breakthroughs in health data research and addressed the grand challenges in the field. Among the participants at the conference, DARE UK (Data and Analytics Research Environments UK) showcased its pivotal role in propelling advancements in the data research technology space. 

Professor Emily Jefferson, Chief Technology Officer of HDR UK and Interim Director of DARE UK, addressed the importance of fostering collaboration within the technology ecosystem on the second day. It was a rallying call to unite as a community to push the boundaries of research data infrastructure to enable groundbreaking discoveries. 

Presentations later in the day reported some of the achievements of the DARE UK Phase 1 Driver Projects, funded with support from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which completed their delivery cycle in October 2023. 

Dr Chris Cole, who led the SATRE Driver Project, presented the promising progress made in early-stage adoption of the SATRE specification (a set of principles and capabilities for establishing and managing Trusted Research Environments (TREs) to ensure data privacy, security, and streamlined research operations) across the UK and into Europe. This is a positive sign of greater harmonisation of Trusted Research Environments (TREs) frameworks. 

Dr Phil Quinlan explained the TRE-FX Driver Project‘s success in facilitating secure interactions between TREs running research projects using distributed datasets, underscoring the research potential of federated data analysis. 

Professor Jim Smith, who headed up the SACRO Driver Project, talked through its innovations in enhancing privacy and efficiency in statistical disclosure control for research outputs—a critical step towards fostering trust in data research practices. 

Elsewhere in the busy meeting, the DARE UK Community Groups initiative was also featured in the conversation, as UK TRE Community Co-chair Hari Sood articulated the vision of the group, one of the four DARE UK community groups funded in November 2023. The community groups are now approaching the end of their initial five-month funding period and will present their achievements, challenges, and future aspirations in a forthcoming public webinar. 

One message came across loud and clear from the technology and infrastructure talks: unlocking the full potential of health data demands collaboration, innovation, and a steadfast commitment to excellence. DARE UK is at the centre of this ecosystem, leading collaborative efforts across the UK data research infrastructure landscape to forge a path towards a healthier future for all. 


Learn more about the DARE UK Driver Projects and Community Groups