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How information technology could transform diabetes care

Posted on 7 June 2013

The York Festival of Ideas will play host to a major public lecture which will explore how information technology can help tackle the escalating problem of diabetes and lead to more effective treatments for patients.

The UK is experiencing an explosion of diabetes – at least in part linked to growing obesity rates - with more than 4 per cent of the population now classed as having the disease.

Andrew Morris, a leading Professor of Diabetic Medicine and Dean of Medicine at the University of Dundee, will argue that computer science and "big data" offer opportunities to transform health care.

The treatment of diabetes costs the NHS £10billion. The York Health Economics Consortium recently forecast that this is likely to rise to more than £17billion in the next 25 years, making diabetes treatment the single biggest burden on the NHS budget.

Professor Morris says, “Healthcare is arguably the last major industry to be transformed by the information age. Deployments of information technology have only scratched the surface of possibilities for the potential influence of information and computer science on the quality and cost-effectiveness of healthcare.”

At the lecture on Monday, 24 June, which is sponsored by the University of York’s Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2), Professor Morris will give examples from nationwide research and development programmes that integrate electronic patient records with biologic and health system data.

He will describe the approach to diabetes clinical care in Scotland, and explain how population-based datasets and disease registries can be integrated with biologic information to facilitate epidemiology; drug safety studies; enhanced efficiency of clinical trials through automated follow-up of clinical events and treatment response; and, the conduct of large-scale genetic, pharmacogenetic and family-based studies essential for stratified diabetes medicine – which involves providing the right therapy, to the right patients at the right time and dose.

Professor Morris is Director of the Scottish eHealth Informatics Research Centre funded by the Medical Research Council and nine other funders, and Chief Scientist at the Scottish Government Health Department.  He leads a research team that uses informatics to study both the public health and genetic basis of diabetes and its complications. 

He was awarded the RD Lawrence Award by Diabetes UK in 2003, the Saltire Society Scottish Science Award in 2005 and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Scotland’s national academy of science and letters, and Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. 

He is a Governor of the Health Foundation, a leading UK charity that supports quality improvement in health care.

The public lecture ‘Stratified medicine in diabetes – the Scotland experience’ will take place on Monday, 24 June at the Berrick Saul Building, University of York at 7.30pm. Admission is by free ticket available from the event page or 01904 324778.

Notes to editors:

  • World class speakers, exhibitions and performances – find out more about what’s on offer at the 2013 York Festival of Ideas at
  • The University of York is committed to research into alleviating the world-wide burden of chronic diseases and disorders. With the support of the Wellcome Trust, the University has established the Centre for Chronic Diseases and Disorders (C2D2) to coordinate and maximise the impact of this key interdisciplinary field of research.

Contact details

Caron Lett
Press Officer

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