The Quadram Institute is dedicated to improving health, through improved treatments for gut conditions, developing evidence-based foods that promote good health, and understanding and exploiting the influence of gut microbes on wellbeing and ageing.
There is real potential for the Quadram Institute to make significant improvements to people’s health, not just at the individual level, but also to the overall health of the population nationally, and internationally.
To realise this potential, we are seeking to integrate our experimental research programme with public health, population biology and health economic approaches, to work out how outputs from our research can be tailored to different population groups or even to the individual. There is a growing realisation that a ‘one size fits all’ approach t dietary advice doesn’t maximise the benefits for every individual, and additionally factors such as a person’s genetic make-up and their microbiome could also affect their health and risk of disease.
Recent advances in technology have made it easier and cheaper to collect genomic data from patients, and their microbiota, to build understanding of both individual and population health. Coupling this with clinical information and health records to produce “Big Data” will be fundamental in unlocking the secrets of population health and disease in the future and delivering the personalised medicine approach our patients deserve in the 21st century.
Working with partners on the Norwich Research Park and in primary and secondary care, we would like to launch a “Big Data” approach based on the local population in Norfolk. The Norfolk population is relatively stable, but represents an ageing demographic, with a high representation of the diseases that affect population health, including cardiovascular disease, stroke, mental health, cancer, metabolic disease and liver disease.
This unique scientific study, with Quadram Institute at the hub, will allow us to understand how genome, microbiome and metabolome relate to the development of disease over the lifetime of an individual. We will be able to follow people over long periods of time to see what changes happen in a prospective manner. This unlocks the possibility of being able to predict the future health of an individual, and further, by employing cloud technology and machine learning, we can obtain new knowledge about population health, predictions and trends.
Our ambition to apply Quadram Institute research to this This large scale longitudinal bioinformatics/patient data study will be a unique scientific resource for the UK and beyond and begin to establish how Big Data can be used and stored by the NHS, academic partners and industry to achieve the essential goal of extended health throughout the lifecourse.