Informatics improve health of European Children

Issue date: 05 January 2006

Healthy child Issue date: 05/01/06

A major pan-European project called 'Health-e-Child' that aims to integrate genomic data and children's health information to provide a resource for doctors, medical researchers and other medical practitioners to assist in diagnosis and treatment is being developed by IT experts at the University of the West of England (UWE).

The Integrated Project starts in January 2006 and will involve 15 partner organisations lead by Siemens Medical Solutions in Germany and including partners from Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, Greece and Estonia. It has been funded to over Euros 12 million with around Euros 1.4 million coming to UWE.

The UWE team lead by Professor Richard McClatchey, Director of the Centre for Complex Cooperative Systems (CCCS) in the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences, will coordinate the informatics aspect of the project and, in particular will provide expertise in managing the data over a pan-European Grid of computer resources.

Professor McClatchey said, “We are delighted to contribute to this valuable project that should have a significant impact on European paediatric healthcare in the coming decades. The 'Health-e-Child' system will integrate children's health records recorded in physicians notes, proteomics, genomics, laboratory data and imaging resources through a process called vertical data integration. Health-e-Child will merge and manage the diverse Grid-based medical information and will provide instant access to an integrated resource for the purposes of disease modelling, knowledge discovery and medical decision support systems.

“The CCCS team at UWE has already worked on another Grid-based project with the European Nuclear Research Centre at CERN, Geneva called MammoGrid to manage distributed information related to breast cancer and the success of that project has lead to our team being selected to drive the system that will enable the informatics aspects of the 'Health-e child' project to come to fruition. The vision is for the Health-e-child system to become a universal biomedical knowledge repository providing medical professionals with an indispensable tool to use in their daily clinical practice”.

'Health-e-child' will provide universality of information in particular relating to paediatric heart diseases, inflammatory diseases and brain tumours. The key goal of the project is to integrate all available bio-medical information for each child on record so that improved and informed medical decisions can be made and new discoveries can be made in clinical, epidemiological and public policy research.

One key goal of the system is to facilitate universal access to all records so that ambiguous diagnoses or complex symptoms that a doctor may rarely encounter in a patient can be compared with other similar cases no matter where they are located across a pan-European Grid of hospitals. Using the system doctors will be able to gauge how other patients responded to varying treatments and make better informed decisions about what clinical steps to recommend, thereby personalising paediatric healthcare. The system will also integrate latest research so that doctors can use this information to aid diagnosis and treatment.

'Health-e-child' is a four year project that is funded by the 'EC Sixth Framework IST Programme' which has a principle objective of improving patient care through the integration and coordination of research which is largely fragmented across Europe.


Editor's notes

Health-e-Child will involve the following organisations.

Siemens Medical Solutions, Erlangen, Germany
Lynkeus, Rome Italy
I.R.C.C.S. Gianni Gaslini, Genoa, Italy
University College London
Hospital Necker Enfants-Malades, Paris, France
European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) Geneva, Switzerland
Maat G Knowledge - Toledo, Spain
University of the West of England, Bristol, UK
University of Athens, Athens, Greece
Universita' degli Studi di Genova, Genoa, Italy
National Institute for Information and Automation Research (INRIA), Sophia Antipolis, France
European Genetics Foundation, Bologna, Italy
Asper Biotech, Tartu, Estonia
Gerolamo Gaslini Foundation, Genoa, Italy

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