17 May 2017

World’s largest health big data institute opens in Oxford

Photos by John Cairns

A new £115 million biomedical research centre has opened at the University of Oxford's Old Road Campus in Headington. It could pave the way for treatments for some of the biggest health problems around the globe and improve the lives of millions.

Photos by John Cairns The Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Information and Discovery incorporates two related research institutes – the Target Discovery Institute (TDI) and the Big Data Institute (BDI). Present at the opening ceremony were Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond; Li Ka Shing, the Hong Kong-based businessman and philanthropist whose foundation provided financial support for the project; and the University's Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, Chris Patten and Louise Richardson.

The BDI’s innovative new building opened in January after the completion of a major construction effort managed by the Capital Projects team within Estates Services. It incorporates a café, seminar rooms, meeting rooms and break-out areas, covering more than 7,400m2 over four levels. As part of its sustainability strategy it also incorporates a ‘labyrinth’ – a network of air intake tunnels beneath the building to cool incoming air in summer and help reduce heating costs in winter.

Photos by John Cairns

Made possible by a £20m gift from the Li Ka Shing Foundation, the Centre brings together more than 600 researchers from many academic disciplines. Molecular and cell biologists, chemists, statisticians, computer scientists, informatics specialists, engineers and clinical scientists will all be housed under the same roof to improve collaboration and innovation.

They will analyse data from hundreds of thousands of patients all over the world, improving our understanding of diseases and speeding the development of new treatments for conditions such as cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. Their work will help us define disease more accurately, identify targets for new drugs, and understand how diseases respond to treatment.