Aston University AI Project Aims to Make International Health Data Sharing Easier

Aston University is to explore the use of AI to improve sharing health data internationally.

Dr Sergei Sokolovski of the University's Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies has been awarded €317,500 to work on a European-wide project.

Called BETTER (Better real-world health data distributed analytics research platform) the spans16 academic, medical and industrial partners.

Although data-driven medicine is currently used to improve diagnosis, treatment and medical research ethical, legal and privacy issues can prevent sharing and centralising data for analysis.

The research at Aston University’s involvement in the BETTER project aims to overcome these challenges so health data can be shared across national borders while fully complying with the general data protection regulation (GDPR) guidelines.

Dr Sergei Sokolovski will lead the development of a secure data sharing system which will allow access to large sets of multi-source health data via tailor-made AI tools.

Scientists and healthcare professionals will be able to compare, integrate and analyse data securely at a lower cost than current methods to improve people’s health.

The BETTER project will focus on three health conditions; childhood learning disabilities, inherited degenerative retina diseases and autism, involving seven medical centres across the European Union and beyond.

Dr Sergei Sokolovski said: "Data protection regulations prohibit data centralisation for analysis purposes because of privacy risks like the accidental disclosure of personal data to third parties.

"Therefore, to enable health data sharing across national borders and to fully comply with GDPR guidelines this project proposes a robust decentralised infrastructure which will empower researchers, innovators and healthcare professionals to exploit the full potential of larger sets of multi-source health data.

"As healthcare continues to evolve in an increasingly data-driven world projects like BETTER offer promising solutions to the challenges of health data sharing, research collaboration, and ultimately, improving the well-being of citizens worldwide.

"The collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including medical centres, researchers, and innovators, highlights the importance of interdisciplinary efforts in addressing these complex issues."

The research will last 42 months.

About Aston University

For over a century, Aston University’s enduring purpose has been to make our world a better place through education, research and innovation, by enabling our students to succeed in work and life, and by supporting our communities to thrive economically, socially and culturally.

Aston University’s history has been intertwined with the history of Birmingham, a remarkable city that once was the heartland of the Industrial Revolution and the manufacturing powerhouse of the world.

Born out of the First Industrial Revolution, Aston University has a proud and distinct heritage dating back to our formation as the School of Metallurgy in 1875, the first UK College of Technology in 1951, gaining university status by Royal Charter in 1966, and becoming The Guardian University of the Year in 2020.

Building on our outstanding past, we are now defining our place and role in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (and beyond) within a rapidly changing world.

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