Population and Quantitative Science

More than half of clinical studies fail, usually because the drug being tested simply doesn’t work very well, even if it looked promising at the pre-clinical stage (in the laboratory).

One of the aims of this theme is to look at how we can more accurately:

  • identify new drug targets (these are the proteins and molecules in the body that could be directly affected by the drug being tested)
  • select potential participants (patients) for trials, whose genetic make-up may make them more likely to benefit from the drugs being tested
  • speed up the translation (application) of drugs that are shown to be effective for use in the clinic.

Using innovative techniques from both population science (which aims to improve public health and reduce disease risk) and quantitative science (which uses statistical and mathematical tools to investigate observable symptoms in patients), we will measure and analyse vast amounts of patient and population data, including the diseases they have and their genetic make-up.

We will also develop tools to:

  • make it easier for more patients sign up to and take part in research run by the NIHR BioResource
  • analyse patient genomics data
  • support medicine repurposing
  • enable more precision-medicine studies.

(Medicine repurposing is when we test drugs that are known to be safe in humans because they are already in use and we want to see if they also work on patients with other conditions; precision medicine is when we tailor treatments to individual patients which takes into account their genetic make-up.)

In the medium and longer term we will help build a national “living laboratory” of more than one million patients and volunteers in the NIHR BioResource, who are willing to take part in biomedical research.