The University of Sheffield is one of the most successful members of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of research-intensive institutions. It has a formidable record in computational life sciences research and has collaborated in pan-European EC-funded projects since the earliest Framework Programmes. Having recently established the 130-member Insigneo Institute for in silico Research – a joint venture between the faculties of Medicine and Engineering together with Sheffield’s very large NHS Hospital Trust – it is Europe’s largest single facility dedicated to the investigation of computational healthcare, and now provides unified access to all aspects of simulation-based medical research. With expertise across medical science, the Institute focuses particularly on orthopaedic, cardiovascular, oncological and neurological research, with an increasing role in genetics and its associated large-volume data-processing.
As an important leader in the in silico research community, Sheffield has overseen the increasing maturity of mathematical modelling activities within medicine, developing sophisticated framework-based approaches to many aspects, including collaborative development environments, formalised multiscale technologies, secure data-sharing mechanisms, structured algorithmic development processes and generalised sharable workflow technologies. The Insigneo Institute is not only a centre for the focused development of in silico techniques but also a hub for the management of both large and small in silico research projects, including those with a strong industrial content. This combined academic and administrative expertise provides the consortium with significant strengths in both the philosophy and practicality of computational healthcare development, and provides strong support for biomedical engineering developments.
USFD are leading WP6: Empowering Biomedical Applications and are heading Neuro- Musculoskeletal Exemplar Research, Workflow Infrastructure, and Emerging Use Cases for Existing Solutions. USFD was one of the core partners in the VPH Network of Excellence, where, together with the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (STH), it took particular responsibility for development of models for access to clinical data: this is of primary importance in the context of the current proposal. It has an excellent track record in participation in related research and in development of components that will contribute to the VPH, including analytical and computational tools. Recent European projects include @neurIST, in which it has led the work package developing the computational analysis workflows, euHeart, in which it led a work package on aortic diseases, Meddica, COAST and VPH-Share in which it is responsible for overall project design and coordination. In the current project it will provide oversight of the application workflows and curated models from its portfolio of research projects to be exposed to the wider community through the developed IT infrastructure, and it will exploit its special relationship with STH to ensure that the project addresses the needs of the clinical, research and industrial communities.
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust manages the five NHS adult hospitals in Sheffield. It provides around one million appointments and operations a year and offers almost every treatment available through the NHS. The majority of patients are from Sheffield and the surrounding areas but around five per cent are from other parts of the country. They come for specialist treatments, many of which are offered in only a few NHS trusts in the UK. STH works very closely with the University of Sheffield to ensure it remains at the cutting edge of medical research and development, helping the Trust to develop new and specialist services for the benefit of patients from across the UK.
The NHS Department of Medical Physics is co-located with its academic counterpart, and together it has been hugely successful in being awarded project funding both locally and at an EU level. The two most recent large projects are @neurIST and VPH-Share. @neurIST (www.aneurist.org) ended recently and was a 4-year project with a 17M€ budget, gathering 28 public and private institutions of 12 European countries, in which STH’s role included clinical data collection, and the deployment, integration and testing of research information systems at 6 European clinical centres. VPH-Share (http://www.vph-share.eu/) is a 14M€ EC project that is constructing the key computational infrastructure designed to support future collaborative VPH research, and a significant component concerns the optimisation of the data/computation mechanism for workflows, carried out by the STH scientific computation group. The group’s primary role is the management and development of both clinical information systems and Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) within the five hospitals it covers. The group specifically focuses on the development of software to support and extend the functionality of commercial systems that are purchased by the hospital in order to realise the full benefits that electronic systems can offer health-care institutions, and this involves the application of open source and research outputs from projects they participate in. The majority of this work revolves around implementing standard interface technologies such as HL7, DICOM and web service requests between these clinical systems and extensive test protocols to ensure they work effectively.