Many of NHSBT’s organisational requirements can increasingly be addressed by new tools and approaches associated with the data science revolution. Harnessing the full potential of developments requires a strategic response in two inter-related areas.
First, we will develop the personnel, expertise, and tools (for example, computing capabilities) to exploit and link our unique and complex data-sets. This will include linking our datasets to external resources being established in major international initiatives.
Second, we currently lack a systematic approach to the creation of big data resources. Our ability to combine serial access to very large numbers of donors and patients, biological samples, and consent of donors for use of their samples and e-health records for research purposes means that we have the potential to become leaders in this field. The vast amount of potential in this domain has been illustrated by the success in recent years of initiatives such as INTERVAL and QUOD.
In order to deliver these benefits, we will develop a Translational Data Science function by investing in people with the relevant quantitative inter-disciplinary expertise for building and exploiting big data resources for donor and patient benefit (e.g. bioinformatics, computational biology, statistical genomics, mathematical modelling, software engineering). To realise this goal, an options appraisal will be conducted, taking into account the government’s Strategy for UK Data Capability to establish the optimal capacity, best location, management arrangements and funding mechanism for a new translational bioinformatics and statistical genomics laboratory.