Updates from a previous JGI Seed Corn funded project:  Addressing the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) ‘data gap’

We are delighted to announce a few updates regarding one of our previous seed corn funded projects. In 2022-2023, the JGI funded Cheryl McQuire’s (Bristol Medical School) project on “Addressing the fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) ‘data gap’: ascertaining the feasibility of establishing the first UK National linked database for FASD”. This project allowed Cheryl’s team to explore the feasibility of establishing a National Linked Database for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) as Landmark UK guidance has called for urgent action to increase identification, understanding, and support for those affected with this disorder.  

FASD is caused by prenatal alcohol exposure and is thought to be particularly common in the UK population. The aim of the seed corn project was to make the initial steps towards forming a UK National Database for FASD looking at feasibility, acceptability, key purposes and the data structure needed. Through questioning over 100 stakeholders including clinicians, data specialists, researchers, policy makers, charities, and people living with FASD, the project was able todemonstrate a strong support for a national FASD database but there was a common concern among stakeholders about privacy and data sharing. Full details of the project can be found on our previous blog post.  

Cheryl and their team also collaborated with the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute (EBI) on “Developing a National Database for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (Nat-FASD UK): incorporating the views and recommendations of people with FASD and their carers.” Their findings from the projects funded by JGI and EBI were presented at ADR-UK conference 2023. The abstract for this work can be viewed here. In addition, a pre-print of their FASD National database workshop findings is now available here.  

Importantly, this work has been selected to feature in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Research Excellence Series 2024. Cheryl will be delivering a webinar on “Showcasing methods for diverse stakeholder involvement in database design: establishing the feasibility and acceptability of a National Database for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)” on Thursday 13 June 10:30 to 11:30 BST. The webinar will cover how the team developed a tailored, multi-method approach to public and professional involvement activities, leading to high levels of engagement. In addition, you will also hear what people living with FASD and health care, policy and data science professionals had to say about the feasibility and acceptability of a UK National Linked Database for FASD. There will be an opportunity to ask Cheryl any questions during the dedicated Q&A section. You can register a place on the webinar here.  

The work from both projects has been crucial in paving the way for progress in FASD research within the UK. It has also allowed us to get closer to addressing the FASD data gap that has been stalling the progress in prevention, understanding, and appropriate support for too long. Since both projects, Cheryl’s team has continued working on the FASD database and is currently pursuing funding options to establish a National database for FASD.  

The Jean Golding Institute offers seed corn projects every year to support and promote activities that will foster interdisciplinary research in the area of data science, based on the principle that a small financial investment will lead onto bigger things. We anticipate that our next seed corn funding call will be announced in the autumn of 2024.  Sign up to our mailing list to find out when the call goes live. 

Are you a researcher looking for data scientist support?

Researchers across the University benefit from our JGI Seedcorn Funding. Funding is great when you have someone to do the work – but what if you don’t have the right data science expertise in house? For that, this summer we are trialling a new JGI Data Scientist Support service. This provides an alternative support mechanism for researchers who need expertise and time, but not funding. 

The Jean Golding Institute’s team of data scientists and research software engineers are here to support researchers across the University of Bristol fostering a collaborative research environment spanning multiple disciplines. Over the past seven years, our team has expanded thanks to various funding sources, reflecting the increasing importance of data science support in facilitating research outcomes and impact. 

Get in touch with our team to find out how they can help you with: 

  • Data analysis – recommendations or support with tools and methods for statistics, modelling, machine learning, natural language processing, computer vision, geospatial datasets and reproducible data analysis. 
  • Software development – technical support, coding (for example: Python, R, MATLAB, SQL, bash scripts), code review and best practices. 
  • Data communication – data visualisation, dashboards and websites. 
  • Research planning – experimental design, data management plans, data governance, data hazards and ethics. 

Our aim is to support researchers and groups that may not have in-house expertise but have project ideas that can be developed into applications for funding. We’re seeking projects that can take place over the summer until early autumn (July – October 2024). 

How to apply 

Please complete an online expression of interest form  

Deadline: 15 July 2024 

Selection process 

The JGI team will get back to you within one week, to discuss your request.  

If demand exceeds our current resource levels, we’ll meet with applicants to help prioritise projects. As with seedcorn funding, priority will go to applications that match JGI strategic goals and have clear pathways to benefit, such as an identified funding call or impact case. 

Examples of data science projects 

  • Social mobility analysis project – using local and national level data to investigate how different people in Bristol and other UK cities feel about life in their local environment. The JGI data scientist worked as part of a multidisciplinary team including University of Bristol researchers and external stakeholders, for around 2 days per week for 3 months. They analysed survey and geospatial data using Python, presented findings to the group. The output of the project was a grant application in which a data scientist was costed longer-term. 
  • Antimicrobial resistance project – examining patterns in observed levels of antimicrobial resistance during the COVID pandemic. The JGI data scientist worked with a University of Bristol researcher and collaborated with a public sector stakeholder, for around 4 days per week for 4 months. They performed statistical modelling using R, producing data visualisations of the trends found. The project has led to an Impact Acceleration Funding application to develop a tool used to support local health planning. 
  • Transport research-ready dataset grant – linking administrative datasets to support research into car and van use in the UK. The JGI data scientist developed data pipelines and provided methodological and data governance input into a successful ESRC funding application in a collaboration between researchers at the universities of Bristol and Leeds. The data scientist was a named researcher on the application and went on to perform data analysis as part of the project team. 

Turing Fellowships 2024 announcement

The Jean Golding Institute is pleased to announce the next University of Bristol-based researchers that have been awarded The Alan Turing Institute Fellowship.

Starting on the 1st of March, two new Bristol-based researchers will be joining the Turing network and becoming Turing fellows alongside forty-nine other fellows being announced today.

Turing fellows are researchers with proven research excellence in data science, artificial intelligence (AI) or a related field whose research will be significantly enhanced through active involvement with The Alan Turing network of partners and universities.

The aim of the Turing Fellowship scheme is to grow the data science and AI ecosystem in the UK through supporting, retaining and developing the careers of the next generation of world leading researchers, while also contributing to the Alan Turing Institute’s overarching goals.

Meet & hear from our new incoming Turing Fellows at the University of Bristol:

Dr Caitlin Robinson

“I am excited to meet other fellows working across a wide range of disciplines. I am especially interested to learn more from researchers at the Turing about issues of ethics and justice in data science and AI.” Dr Caitlin Robinson, Turing Fellow.

Dr Robinson is a quantitative human geographer and UKRI Future Leaders Fellow interested in understanding and mapping different forms of spatial inequality, especially related to energy.

Dr Genevieve Liveley

Dr Liveley is a Professor of Classics and Director of the Research Institute for Sociotechnical Cyber Security (RISCS). She is also the co-founder of FLiNT (Futures Literacy through Narrative) and a narratologist whose research interests focus upon narratives and narrative theories (both ancient and modern) and their impact on futures thinking.

Drs Robinson and Lively are both a part of new cohort of Turing Fellows that will tackle science and innovation challenges and support the Alan Turing Institute’s work in skills and public engagement. Read more about the announcement of the new cohort of fellows here.

Dr Dan Lawson appointed as interim Director of the Jean Golding Institute

Dr Dan Lawson has been appointed as the interim Director of the Jean Golding Institute for an initial period of six months. As well as the interim Director role, he will assume the role of Academic Liaison for The Alan Turing Institute, the UK’s national institute for Data Science and AI, on behalf of the University of Bristol.

“Dan Lawson is a visionary academic leader whose prominent work in data science has transgressed disciplinary boundaries. I am delighted that he is taking up the position of Director of the Jean Golding Institute, and greatly look forward to working with him.” said Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, Professor Phil Taylor.

Dr Lawson is Associate Professor in Data Science in the School of Mathematics, University of Bristol. He has been a longstanding friend of the Jean Golding Institute, becoming the Academic Lead for the JGI Data Science Seminar Series from 2018 and a JGI Steering Group Member since 2021, bringing his experience and knowledge in the field of Data Science advising the JGI of where to focus its activities and contributing to our five year plan.

Dr Lawson is a member of the Royal Statistical Society, a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and a Turing Fellow in Data Science, with The Alan Turing Institute and co-directs Compass, the EPSRC centre for Computational Statistics and Data science.

“It is a great honour to be guiding the Data Science community at Bristol as interim Director of the Jean Golding Institute. This is a great time to celebrate and build upon the monumental impact that the JGI has already had on Data Intensive Research, both within the University and beyond.” said Associate Professor Lawson on his appointment.

“I am looking forward to speaking to people across the University about their ideas for finding more ways to interact with, learn from, and understand the world with data. With so much exciting research being done, this is a great time to be a data scientist, and change is a good opportunity to start new discussions.”

“The JGI is open for business as ever. From the Ask JGI service for getting advice, to providing data expertise on grants, we are here to serve – and to inspire – our community.” he added.

Associate Professor Lawson began his career at Imperial College London, receiving his PhD in Mathematics and Computer Science in 2007.

In 2014, he joined the University of Bristol as a Sir Henry Dale Wellcome Trust Research Fellow before progressing to Lecturer, Senior Lecturer to Associate Professor in Data Science.

Associate Professor Lawson’s dedication to diversity and outreach initiatives is commendable. Through pioneering initiatives like “Access to Data Science,” he increased the gender, ethnic, and social diversity in academia, thereby contributing to a more inclusive research environment. His engagement in data science outreach efforts, spanning from Bayesian interpretation of Ghost Stories, to COVID modelling, and “What to know before studying Data Science” showcases his commitment to making complex concepts accessible to broader audiences. Additionally, his research, which ranges from landscape management policy documents to industry applications like the finestructure software, underscores his impact across diverse domains, cementing his status as a trailblazer in the field of data science and beyond.

His membership in advisory boards such as the Transdisciplinary Centre of Excellence Estonian Roots (CoEER), showcases his commitment to fostering interdisciplinary collaborations and advancing scientific endeavours.

The Jean Golding Institute is the central hub for data science and data-intensive research at the University of Bristol. We connect a multidisciplinary community of experts across the University and beyond. We offer free 1 day of support from our Ask-JGI “ask a data scientist” service for all staff and doctoral students at the University of Bristol, as well as a calendar of events and training throughout the year, such as the annual Bristol Data Week held in early June packed with interactive talks, training, and workshops, open to all and completely free of charge. Save the date for this year’s Bristol Data Week which will be held 3rd – 7th June 2024.

Associate Professor Lawson will commence in his role of Director of the Jean Golding Institute on the 19th February 2024.

Hear the JGI’s first monthly podcast: Data Hazards and Digital Phenotyping 

The JGI is delighted to launch the JGI Podcast, where the team at the Jean Golding Institute talk to different members of the University of Bristol’s data science research community. Each episode aims to highlight both the variety of backgrounds and paths that our guests come from as well as the diversity in methods, approaches and applications in data science research at the university.

Nina Di Cara shown on the left, Huw day shown in the middle & Léo Gorman on the right.

This month, Huw Day and Léo Gorman (Data Scientists at the JGI) talk to Nina Di Cara about Data Hazards and Digital Phenotyping.

Visit our podcast website, find it in your usual podcast catalogue, or use the player below: