Using data science to crack the code for cystic fibrosis.

Monday 08 May 2017


The Alan Turing Institute has entered into a partnership with the Cystic Fibrosis Trust to investigate how data could help improve healthcare for people living with the life-limiting

Turing Faculty Fellow, Professor Mihaela van der Schaar, plans to investigate how to use machine learning techniques on UK CF Registry data – a secure centralised database holding health data from over 99% of consenting people with cystic fibrosis across the UK, managed by the Trust – which may help to create a method of generating personalised risk scores for people with cystic fibrosis. These scores can then be used by people with cystic fibrosis and their clinical teams to tailor treatments and other activities to effectively manage the condition.

Intelligent risk adjustment methods will also support clinical teams to monitor and continuously improve the clinical care they provide.

Previously, health data projects have often been conducted by epidemiologists and medical statisticians, who study the patterns, causes and effects of diseases in groups of people. This partnership gives the opportunity to look at the information in a new way through machine learning techniques.

Mihaela will be supported in her research by a post-doctoral fellow, a person with cystic fibrosis and a leading cystic fibrosis clinician, as well as the UK CF Registry Team and Dr Janet Allen, Director of Strategic Innovation at the Trust.

The Cystic Fibrosis Trust is the only UK-wide charity dedicated to fighting for a life unlimited for everyone affected by cystic fibrosis and one of the first charities in the UK to work with The Alan Turing Institute.

Mihaela van der Schaar said, “Effective treatment and management of care for patients with cystic fibrosis depends on accurate forecasts of the course of the disease, including prognosis of survival, under various alternative treatments for each individual patient. Our work develops new methods and can lead to enormous improvements in the accuracy of forecasts and hence improvement in treatment, quality of life, and survival for many patients. I am excited to be involved in this project which has the potential to improve the lives of so many people.”

Rebecca Cosgriff, Registry lead at the Trust said, “We are delighted that The Alan Turing Institute has partnered with the Trust. There is huge potential for advanced machine learning techniques to give us new insights into cystic fibrosis that will be a useful tool for people with the condition and their clinical teams.”

Lynsey Beswick, cystic fibrosis patient representative said, “I am very excited to be involved in this research as a patient representative with The Alan Turing Institute. I look forward to seeing the potential impact that this could have in helping patients with cystic fibrosis like myself to better understand and manage the condition and hopefully improve future treatment and care of the condition.”

Thom Daniels, cystic fibrosis physician and external advisor said, “This is very exciting research for people with cystic fibrosis. People living with cystic fibrosis frequently want to know why their health is like it is now, and what will happen to their health in the future.  By applying the very latest cutting-edge computer technologies to analysing data collected from people with cystic fibrosis, we hope it may provide them with better information to help predict their health in years to come.  If successful it could help provide enormously powerful tools for patients and doctors to use together to help decide which are the best treatments to recommend and when.”


For more information or media enquiries contact:

Shana Tufail

Communications and Marketing Manager, The Alan Turing Institute

[email protected] / 0203 862 3356