Cancer research in the UK will get a boost under a new scheme funded by government and charitable organisations.
The £19 million investment will see four 'e-Health research' Centres of Excellence established in London, Manchester, Dundee and Swansea.
These virtual centres will be made up of researchers who will become experts at analysing UK health data and finding ways to use the data to improve patient care and public health.
The Centres will focus on conditions including cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.
The Centres will link information in NHS health records with other forms of research and routinely-collected data, and are intended to keep the UK at the forefront of global medical research.
Researchers will be able to combine this information to try to identify more effective treatments, improve drug safety, assess risks to public health and study the causes of diseases and disability.
The consortium behind the scheme, led by the Medical Research Council and involving Cancer Research UK, also intends to form a network to capitalise on the expertise in the Centres, and to encourage wider collaborations among UK and international researchers.
Medical Research Council chief executive Professor Sir John Savill said: "This is a watershed moment for data research and for the Medical Research Council, which I believe will deliver the benefits of e-health research, improving patient care over the coming years.
"The way in which the partner organisations have come together to invest in e-health underpins its importance and will help establish the UK as a world leader in this field."
Dr Fiona Reddington, Cancer Research UK's head of clinical and population research funding, said: "We are delighted to be working in partnership to support these Centres of Excellence in e-Health. This is an exciting time for e-Health research as linking data becomes an increasingly important and routine way in which science is undertaken.
"The more we learn about cancer the more its complexity is revealed and it is increasingly clear that further progress depends significantly on sharing and integrating the vast amounts of data being generated.
"These Centres provide an opportunity to develop the next generation of researchers in this field and to allow researchers to undertake groundbreaking research due to the availability of secure, high-quality data in a way that has not been previously possible."
(16 May 2013)
(15 May 2013)
(13 May 2013)