Published on 17/01/2024
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Aston University AI project aims to make international health data sharing easier


  • Project to improve sharing data while complying with general data protection regulation (GDPR) guidelines
  • Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies awarded almost £300k to work on European-wide project
  • Will develop secure data sharing system to allow access to large sets of multi-source health data via tailor-made AI tools.

Aston University is to explore the use of AI to improve sharing health data internationally.

Dr Sergei Sokolovski of the University’s Aston Institute of Photonic Technologies has been awarded €317,500 to work on a European-wide project.

Called BETTER (Better real-world health data distributed analytics research platform) the spans16 academic, medical and industrial partners.

Although data-driven medicine is currently used to improve diagnosis, treatment and medical research ethical, legal and privacy issues can prevent sharing and centralising data for analysis.

The research at Aston University’s involvement in the BETTER project aims to overcome these challenges so health data can be shared across national borders while fully complying with the general data protection regulation (GDPR) guidelines.

Dr Sergei Sokolovski will lead the development of a secure data sharing system which will allow access to large sets of multi-source health data via tailor-made AI tools.

Scientists and healthcare professionals will be able to compare, integrate and analyse data securely at a lower cost than current methods to improve people’s health.

The BETTER project will focus on three health conditions; childhood learning disabilities, inherited degenerative retina diseases and autism, involving seven medical centres across the European Union and beyond. 

Dr Sergei Sokolovski said: “Data protection regulations prohibit data centralisation for analysis purposes because of privacy risks like the accidental disclosure of personal data to third parties. 

“Therefore, to enable health data sharing across national borders and to fully comply with GDPR guidelines this project proposes a robust decentralised infrastructure which will empower researchers, innovators and healthcare professionals to exploit the full potential of larger sets of multi-source health data.

“As healthcare continues to evolve in an increasingly data-driven world projects like BETTER offer promising solutions to the challenges of health data sharing, research collaboration, and ultimately, improving the well-being of citizens worldwide. 

“The collaboration between multiple stakeholders, including medical centres, researchers, and innovators, highlights the importance of interdisciplinary efforts in addressing these complex issues.”

The research will last 42 months.

Notes to editors

Better Real-World Health-Data Distributed Analytics Research Platform, Grant agreement 101136262
Research Universities taking part are: Aston University, Klinikum der Universitaet zu Koeln, Universiteit Maastricht, Universitat Politecnica de Valencia, Universitetet i Tromsoe,

About Aston University
Founded in 1895 and a university since 1966, Aston University is a long-established university led by its three main beneficiary groups – students, business and the professions, and the West Midlands region and wider society. Located in Birmingham at the heart of a vibrant city, the campus houses all the University’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Aleks Subic is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.
In 2022 Aston University was ranked in the top 25 of the Guardian University Guide, based on measures including entry standards, student satisfaction, research quality and graduate prospects. The Aston Business School MBA programme was ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking.
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