The University of Southampton

Big data from the environment to be analysed to improve respiratory healthcare

Published: 18 December 2017
Dr Zoheir Sabeur

Researchers from across Europe will use big data to investigate population health prediction and management in a high profile three-year project involving the University of Southampton’s IT Innovation Centre.

Big Data for Medical Analytics, or BigMedilytics, will channel funding from the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme to improve practices of life-saving care across the continent.

Dr Zoheir Sabeur, Science Director of the IT Innovation Centre in Southampton’s Department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), will work alongside a range of academic and industrial partners in a part of the study that will improve the care of patients living with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD).

Specific persistent weather conditions and atmospheric pollution could be significant to the triggering of severe COPD and asthma exacerbation events in patients on regional and national scales.

Zoheir says, “I am honoured to lead the UK pilot on COPD and asthma in the BigMediltytics project. Our goal is to demonstrate to the medical care communities robust and highly performing predictors for these exacerbation events using advanced big data analytics. This will be a breakthrough once achieved as we strongly believe that the prediction of these events at patient level will revolutionise care and contribute in the emerging 21st century concept of personalised medicine. The delivery of exacerbation event alerts with specific patient’s context information to clinicians, community nursing teams and pharmaceutical companies will save lives and reduce the cost of care across hospitals in the UK.”

The BigMedilytics project is a collaboration between the IT Innovation Centre, ECS and UK partners My mHealth and AstraZeneca UK together with NHS partners. AstraZeneca is a global, science-led biopharmaceutical business while My mHealth is a leading digital health SME that is currently the only endorsed app provider to the NHS. BigMedilytics will start in January 2018 and has a grant value of around €600,000 for the University of Southampton.

BigMedilytics is part of a larger partnership in Europe that includes Philips Electronics Research, the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Valencia General Hospital Foundation for Clinical Research in Spain, Vienna University of Medicine in Austria.

“The particular challenge of Big Medilytics is an outstanding big data problem, since it firstly requires automatic access to large volumes of data from heterogeneous data sources such as weather, atmospheric pollution, patients’ primary and secondary care data together with contextual information on patients’ lifestyles,” Zoheir explains. “Once acquired this big data needs to be intelligently explored, aggregated and organised for investigation while we develop deep machine learning algorithms to understand and detect the triggering agents of COPD or asthma exacerbation events in individual patients.”

The work of BigMedilytics expands on wider big data research programmes that have been conducted at the IT Innovation Centre in recent years. Zoheir’s research projects have focused on big data pre-processing, machine learning, forecasting, knowledge modelling and reasoning in various domains. These include the automatic detection and understanding of human behaviour using vision for safety and security around critical infrastructure; the effect of climate change and forecast of species migratory behaviour trends and; big data processing for safer ship navigation and fuel consumption optimisation in the Arctic.

Find out more about how information technologies from the University of Southampton are being deployed in industry commerce and the public sector through the IT Innovation Centre.

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