The UK’s largest health research program to date, Our Future Health, which aims to produce one of the most detailed pictures of people’s health ever, is said to use the Microsoft Cloud to generate the vast amounts of data needed for the programme. safe to store.
Our Future Health, a collaboration between the private, charity and public sectors – including the NHS – is building a community of five million volunteers from across the UK who give their permission to share health and health-related information about themselves in new ways for the prevention, detection and treatment of diseases.
The program will address some of the leading causes of death and serious illness in the UK, including dementia, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and stroke.
Our Future Health has now chosen Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform to enable processing of the information collected by the volunteers for research purposes and to support websites and apps used by medical teams.
All of this will be contained within a Trusted Research Environment (TRE) provided by DNAnexus, which will be located in a UK Azure region. The TRE enables researchers to securely access and analyze data using a variety of bioinformatics and biomedical research tools, including genome analysis.
DNAnexus and Microsoft will work together, but as with any project of this nature, Microsoft and DNAnexus do not have access to the data in the program itself. The information is anonymised, encrypted, stored and securely managed in the UK, in accordance with all applicable data protection laws and regulations the UK government on data protection.
Andrew Roddam, Chief Executive of Our Future Health, said: “We are pleased that Microsoft will work with us as a key technology partner and provide our cloud services. This will be an integral part of Our Future Health, underpinning so many important systems essential to the delivery of the program and ultimately helping to create one of the most detailed pictures we have of people’s health.”
Volunteers participating in the program who are over the age of 18 and truly reflect the diversity of the UK population will donate a small sample of blood to allow researchers to examine DNA information and biomarkers, complete questionnaires about their health and lifestyle and donate Permission for Our Future Health to securely link to their health records.
This can be the key to a large number of discoveries, such as:
• New signals that could be used to detect diseases much earlier than currently possible, leading to new or improved screening and prevention programs and earlier treatment
• New ways to predict with greater accuracy who is at higher risk of disease and would benefit from faster access to screening and prevention
• More targeted or personalized treatments, tools and technologies to delay disease onset or alter the course of disease progression; to reduce disease risks; and more targeted ways to research diseases for people at higher risk.
Jacob West, MD of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Microsoft UK said: “Healthcare teams around the world trust the Microsoft Cloud to deliver better experiences, insights and care while managing and protecting health and personal data. Microsoft is proud to support the work of Our Future Health, which will provide research teams with a unique insight into some of the most common and life-changing diseases people face.”
The partnership with Our Future Health is the latest example of Microsoft’s work in support of healthcare, biomedical research, precision medicine initiatives and clinical collaboration. In 2020, the NHS rolled out Microsoft 365 to all qualifying organizations in England, including 1.2 million employees; major NHS trusts in Leeds and Birmingham unlock innovation and collaboration by moving to Azure cloud; while two NHS surgeons in Northumbria are investigating how Microsoft AI can help reduce waiting times, support recommendations from health teams and provide patients with better information so they can make more informed decisions about their own care.