£4 million data project to accelerate COVID-19 treatment


The new £4 million research project, CO-CONNECT, will help scientists access data to help develop potential treatments for COVID-19

The CO-CONNECT (COVID – Curated and Open aNalysis aNd rEsearCh platform) project will support research into COVID-19 antibody response by connecting data taken from patient blood samples.

The aim of CO-CONNECT is to help scientists discover how immunity may help prevent future spread of the virus in schools and workplaces, how best to treat it in hospitals, and generally how long immunity lasts.

Once available, data from CO-CONNECT will be directly integrated into Health Data Research (HDR) UK’s Innovation Gateway.

Researchers will have access to information from 44 sources through a secure and trustworthy federated platform.

The project which will be conducted by experts from the universities of Nottingham, Dundee and Edinburgh, along with Public Health England, will receive funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), through the UKRI-NIHR COVID-19 rapid response rolling call.

Philip Quinlan, Head of Digital Research Service at the University of Nottingham, and Associate Director in HDR UK, said:

“We are really excited to be bringing together the best of the UK’s data assets into an accessible format. It will ensure leading researchers have access to the latest data and at the scale required to give definitive answers to some of the most significant questions that require an answer.

“We are really thankful to all the leading organisations that have come together to make this possible in the spirit of collaboration under the vision of ensuring data can help save lives.”

David Seymour, Alliance Executive Director, HDR UK, said:

“A fundamental aim of CO-CONNECT is to address the challenge of linkage of high-value data assets with other data sources, in order to provide new scientific insights. This is at the heart of our work at HDR UK and our role in the vital response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Professor Aziz Sheikh, Director of BREATHE and of the Usher Institute, The University of Edinburgh, said:

“Large datasets are transforming healthcare research and initiatives like CO-CONNECT will be key to accelerating research into COVID-19 antibodies.

“This UK-wide initiative brings together data custodians and experts with a wealth of experience in health data management who will collaborate to develop new insights into COVID-19 and speed up the search for treatments that are so badly needed.”

Professor Emily Jefferson, Professor of Health Data Science at the University of Dundee, said:

“We are delighted to be working with leading experts at Nottingham and Edinburgh on the CO-CONNECT platform. This is a fantastic project, which will deliver new capabilities across the country to help us in our fight against COVID-19.”


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