HDR UK Midlands kicks off its quarterly insight sharing webinar series with a huge successful event joined by people from all over the world.

Health inequalities and diversity in health data science was the theme for the webinar, which was proposed by Professor Keith Abrams from the University of Warwick, who helped to construct an agenda which included a broad range of speakers and presentations from across the UK.

The webinar was opened by Dr Fiona Pearce, co-director of HDR UK Midlands, who reiterated the import role that data science and the research community hold in tackling health inequalities and achieving representative diversity in data, participation and workforce. Fiona then handed over to Dr Paola Quattroni, Head of Alliance Strategy and Engagement at HDR UK, who presented the exciting work of the Institute and the UK’s Health Data Research Alliance in relation to health, inequalities and diversity.

This led into the main health inequalities session, which included presentations from Dr Ash Routen and Dr Mark Rutherford from the University of Leicester, who were followed by Jane Lyons from Swansea University, Dr Joe Alderman from the University of Birmingham, and then Dr Maxine Mackintosh from Genomics England. Each presented new and collaborative opportunities from within the data science community that were reimagining their impact on society.

“It was a delight to welcome 272 people from around the world to discuss such an important topic”. Dr Fiona Pearce, Co-director of HDR UK Midlands.

After a short break, Professor Martin Levermore MBE DL, Non-executive Director from The Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust and Chair of Medilink Midlands, shared his own personal story and insights, before chairing the Diversity session. This began with a presentation from Dr Francesca Crowe, Lecturer in Epidemiology, and Miss Suliat Yussuf, HDR UK Intern, from the University of Birmingham, who talked about their experiences of participating in HDR UK’s Black Internship Programme.  Professor Eiman Kanjo, Nottingham Trent University, then gave a personal account of her journey to academic success, focusing on the challenges and opportunities, hoping to inspire the next generation of researchers.

The final session included three presentations from Early Career Researchers across the Midlands, a vitally import community and key strength in the region. This session showcased detailed examples of excellence inequalities research being performed by Dr Ralph Akyea from University of Nottingham and Dr Neil Cockburn and Mr Sam Cusworth from the University of Birmingham..

“I thought that the afternoon webinar was fantastic with such a broad range of speakers and topics.  The personal stories of people’s journeys to success were insightful and our early career researcher talks were very inspiring”. Professor Alastair Denniston, co-Director, HDR UK Midlands.

The webinar was attended by clinicians, data scientists, academics and other interested people from all over the globe, including colleagues from across Africa and as far away as Japan.

The feedback received from the participants has been excellent with some useful suggestions and recommendations to help shape future webinars.

The webinar was organised by Mr Kevin Dunn, HDR UK Midlands Programme Manager and was sponsored by Midlands Innovation Health.

Miss Alex Archibald, Project Manager at MI Health who supported the event says “This event showcased not only the exception strength of the Midlands research community in the area of data science, but also their passion to create real change for our communities experiencing health and care inequalities. This mirrors the findings of the Midlands Health and Care Inequalities Policy Commission.”


The Commission forms the centre piece of a programme of activity to increase understanding of issues surrounding health inequalities in the Midlands and the ability of the region to respond to them. The soon to be launched report, highlights the opportunities that all Midlands organisations have to create change, including those in the research and education sector.

The recordings from the presentations are available via the event page on the HDR UK Midlands Regional Community Platform: https://www.hdrmidlands.org.uk/hdrevents/health-inequalities-and-diversity-in-health-data-science-18-oct-2023/ 

The HDR UK Midlands Team and colleagues from MI Health would like to thank everyone who attended and supported the event.


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