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The atrium of the Big Data Institute building.

The East-West Alliance is a global network of universities and medical schools that are supported by the Li Ka Shing Foundation. The Alliance aims to foster knowledge exchange and collaboration among leading biological and biomedical institutions on high-impact research and educational projects. Each year the Li Ka Shing Foundation supports a symposium at one of the participating institutions. This year’s symposium is being held at the recently opened Big Data Institute in the Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery at the University of Oxford.

The theme of this year’s symposium is “Big Data in Health.” Technological advances have exponentially increased the information we have about the causes and consequences of a wide variety of disease states. Some of this comes from health care records and some from analysing patient samples. The ability to interrogate these data efficiently plays an increasing role in efforts to understand disease and develop new treatments. Progress will depend on collaboration between experts across a wide variety of disciplines including molecular and cell biologists, epidemiologists, statisticians, computer scientists, bioinformaticians, engineers, and clinical scientists. In response, this year’s event will cover sessions on electronic health records, imaging, genomics, mHealth, and population health.

Symposium chairs: Aiden Doherty, Cecilia Lindgren, Martin Landray, Gil McVean

Monday 11 September

Drinks Reception for invited guests (19.00) – Ashmolean Museum

Tuesday 12 September

Opening (9.15 – 9.30) – John Bell (Oxford)

Session 1 (9.30-11.00) - Electronic health records (Chair: Naomi Allen, Oxford):

Neil Risch (UCSF) - Genetic epidemiology research based in electronic health records

Ronald Ma (Chinese University of Hong Kong) - Diabetes and diabetic complications: Insights from the Hong Kong Diabetes Registry and Hong Kong Diabetes Biobank

Lisa Lix (Manitoba) – Combining electronic medical records and administrative health data for chronic disease research and surveillance: More than the sum of parts

Muhammad Mamdani (Toronto) - The Li Ka Shing Centre for Healthcare Analytics Research and Training: Driving Impact Through Data

Session 2 (11.30-13.00) - Genomics-1 (Chair: Augustine Kong, Oxford):

Rasmus Nielsen (UC Berkeley) - Association mapping using low-coverage sequencing in very large cohorts

Jianzhen Xu (Shantou) - Big Data, big opportunity: the genomic studies of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma at SUMC

Rudolf Fehrmann (Groningen) – Harnessing transcriptomic tumour profiles from the public domain

David Marchant (Alberta) – Respiratory Syncytial Virus transmission in cells and the community


13.00-14.00 Lunch + showcase of research at Oxford Big Data Institute


Session 3 (14.00-15.30) - Imaging (Chair: Steve Smith, Oxford):

Jennifer McNab (Stanford) – Brain MRI biomarkers from neurons to networks

Pek-Lan Khong (University of Hong Kong) - Multiparametric imaging in nasopharyngeal carcinoma, and opportunities for machine learning in medicine

Karla Miller (Oxford) - Imaging in an era of multi-scale neuroscience: Where do we go from here?

Itamar Kahn (Technion, Israel) - Aberrant Oligodendrocyte Nf1 Regulation of Myelin Structure: A multi-modal approach to dissecting brain disorders using high-resolution functional imaging


16.00 – 17.00 Social (Organised walking tour of Oxford)


19.00 – 22.00 Evening college dinner for invited guests (Trinity College)


Wednesday 13 September

Session 4 (9.30-11.00) - Genomics-2 (Chair: Cecilia Lindgren, Oxford):

Daniel Rokhsar (Berkeley) – The deep origins of human chromosomes

Peiyong Jiang (Chinese University of Hong Kong) - Fragmentation pattern analysis of maternal and fetal cell-free DNA

Itzhak Kehat (Technion, Israel) - Genome-wide analysis of cardiac and cardiac fibroblasts regulatory elements reveals combinatorial control of gene expression

S.Y. Leung (University of Hong Kong) - Genomics of gastrointestinal tract cancer

Session 5 (11.30-13.00) – Population health (Chair: Rory Collins, Oxford):

Prabhat Jha (St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto) - Avoidable adult mortality in India: Results from 2000-15 from the Million Death Study

Larry Svenson (Alberta) – The use of big data to support health policy development

Lydia Drumwright (Cambridge) – Harnessing technology for scalable epidemiology & public health

Marcelo Urquia (Manitoba) – Leveraging population data repositories to address health inequalities. Potential and challenges


13.00-14.00 Lunch + showcase of research at Oxford Big Data Institute


Session 6 (14.00-15.30) – mHealth (Chair: Lionel Tarassenko, Oxford):

Jessilyn Dunn (Stanford) – Integrative personalized omics profiling and the digital physiome

Ronald Stolk (Groningen) - A Dutch perspective on re-use of data in future health research

Michael Blum (UCSF) - Hype and Hope in AI driven healthcare transformation

Shu Ye (Shantou) - The Shantou University Medical College big data on health project

SESSION 7 (16.00-17.00) BIG DATA IN HEALTH: NEXT FRONTIERS (Chair: Gil McVean, Oxford)

Angela Wood (Cambridge) - Mobilising electronic health records for individ-ualised dynamic prediction of chronic disease

Lord Paul Drayson (Drayson Technologies) –  Personal air quality monitoring

Michael Botchan (Berkeley)Panel member

Richard Gilbertson (Cambridge)Panel member


19.00 – 22.00 Evening dinner for invited guests (Museum of Natural History)


Thursday 14 September: Board meeting                       


Board meeting for invited guests (09.30-11.30) – Balliol College



Research showcase

Research showcase
 Tuesday 12 September 1-2pm: Atrium, Big Data Institute

Simon Schwab - Directed dynamic functional networks in the brain

Michael Suttie – Atypical Face Shape in Diverse Populations: Detection, Prediction and Intervention

Michael Ferlaino - Minerva & Me: Crowdsourcing for Computational Phenotyping

Tanya Golubchik - Quantifying within-host viral diversification using deep sequencing: recent vs chronic HIV infection

George Busby - Towards a genomic data observatory to support malaria control

Alex Stiby - Genetic approaches to elucidating our understanding of therapeutic targets

Nina Hallowell – Ethics for effective big data research in the Oxford Big Data Institute

Thomas Littlejohns - UK Biobank: an open access population-based prospective study of 500,000 men and women

Xiaoming Yang and Garry Lancaster - Development of innovative bespoke IT systems to support and manage large China Kadoorie Biobank

Imen Hammami - Risk of Major Bleed in Relation to Vascular Disease Risk in 0.5M UK Biobank Participants: Implication for Preventive Aspirin Use

Jim Davies - Using routinely-collected patient data for translational research: the NIHR Health Informatics Collaborative

Research showcase
 Wednesday 13 September 1-2pm: Atrium, Big Data Institute

Devesh Batra - Automatic selection of stimulus-distractor image pairings for digital phenotyping in pre-clinical Dementia

Matthew Willetts - Recognising Human Behaviour from Wrist Mounted Accelerometer Data using Random Forests & HMMs on BioBank Data

Lauren Bandy - Using big data on the sales and composition of soft drinks to monitor company reaction to UK nutrition policy

Tim Lucas - Malaria risk maps from administrative case data using disaggregation regression

Annie Browne - Modelling Inequalities in Under-Five Mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Dan Woodcock - Cancer evolution and heterogeneity

Danielle Edwards - Factors influencing recruitment in large randomised trials

Fay Smith - Adverse effects on health and well-being of working as a doctor: views of the UK medical graduates of 1974 and 1977 surveyed in 2014

Blake Thomson - Smoking and mortality: 14-year prospective study of 150,000 Mexican adults

Deborah Malden - Adiposity and Myocardial Infarction in the UK Biobank: A prospective cohort study of 450,000 adults

Forthcoming events

Richard Doll Seminar - Adventures in Digital Health Research: Alcohol, Coffee, and Arrhythmias

Tuesday, 03 September 2024, 1pm to 2pm @ Richard Doll Lecture Theatre, Richard Doll Building, OldRoad Campus, University of Oxford, OX3 7LF