Kidney Catalyst to accelerate the search for kidney disease treatment

25 Jan 2024

The fight against kidney disease, which affects over 10% of the UK population, has received a significant boost as the British Heart Foundation (BHF) Data Science Centre, led by Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) and in partnership with Kidney Research UK, launch the new Kidney Data Science Catalyst.

A recent report from Kidney Research UK estimates that more than 7 million people in the UK are currently living with chronic kidney disease. This is likely to increase further owing to the relationship between kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity, and presents a huge challenge for patients, families and the NHS.

The new Kidney Data Science Catalyst – a partnership between the BHF Data Science Centre at HDR UK, Kidney Research UK, and the BHF – will enable approved researchers to securely access, link, and analyse existing UK health data to help accelerate the search for better prevention, treatment and diagnosis of kidney disease.

Professor Cathie Sudlow, Director of the BHF Data Science Centre and Chief Scientist of Health Data Research UK, said: ‘The Kidney Data Science Catalyst is a fantastic opportunity to accelerate research at the interface of kidney and cardiovascular diseases, and to influence  health policy, clinical practice and patient care. By applying advanced analysis methods to the UK’s vast health data resources, researchers will uncover new clues to the causes and consequences of kidney disease – ultimately improving the lives of patients with kidney disease and those who care for them.’ 

The new partnership with Kidney Research UK will enhance the BHF’s existing investment in the BHF Data Science Centre. Fully embedded within the BHF Data Science Centre, the Kidney Data Science Catalyst will work collaboratively across the BHF Data Science Centre’s existing areas of work to address major research questions of relevance and mutual interest to both the BHF and Kidney Research UK.

Patients affected by cardiovascular and kidney diseases, as well as members of the wider public, will be involved at all stages of research, helping to prioritise studies with the greatest potential impact.

Tracey Murray, Director of Programmes at Kidney Research UK, said: ‘This collaboration forms an important part of our commitment to building infrastructure and expertise in this area, enabling more researchers to make the discoveries that that will move us closer to a day when everyone lives free from kidney disease. We are delighted to be investing in this work to advance urgently-needed kidney data science research.’

Research teams will generate insights using data from a range of healthcare settings, including hospitals, GPs and pharmacies. To ensure that data is held and accessed safely and ethically, all data will be de-identified and accessed for approved research through highly secure computer systems known as Trusted Research Environments.

Professor Bryan Williams, Chief Scientific and Medical Officer at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘Data science has the power to transform medicine. BHF’s investment in the BHF Data Science Centre, in partnership with Health Data Research UK is harnessing the potential of health data to enhance our understanding, prevention and treatment of heart and circulatory diseases. The heart and kidneys are closely linked, and we’re delighted to be working with Kidney Research UK, in a collaboration committed to improving treatment and care for people living with and at risk of cardiovascular and kidney diseases.’

The BHF Data Science Centre is now seeking a pioneering Associate Director to lead the Catalyst’s work. Find out more here.