Oxford DataLab

We are a truly mixed team of software developers, clinicians and traditional academic researchers all pooling skills and knowledge. We are unusual: we produce academic research papers, but we also use the same skills to build build live, interactive, data-driven tools and services; as well as real, practical policy insights on how data can be used to improve lives.

Our work is extremely high impact: our OpenPrescribing.net tool sees over 130,000 unique users a year; our TrialsTracker tools have received extensive global media coverage and help set the policy agenda; our OpenSAFELY.org platform is operating across 40% of England’s full pseudonymised patient records to generate key insights for clinicians and policymakers during COVID-19.

Our research covers a range of topics including: innovative informatics methods; variation in clinical care; behaviour change; research integrity; policy analysis; and more. We also aim to embody new ways of working: we share all our code as open source, and work openly and collaboratively by design, combining best practice from the software development and academic community. We also aim to be positive about the blockers: where we encounter technical, regulatory and cultural barriers to the better use of data, we write them up, and offer workable, practical solutions.

Ben Goldacre
Director

Ben Goldacre is a doctor, academic, best-selling author, and campaigner. He trained in medicine at Oxford and UCL, in psychiatry at the Maudsley, and in epidemiology at LSHTM. His academic and policy work is in epidemiology and evidence based medicine, where he works on various problems including variation in care, better uses of routinely collected electronic health data, access to clinical trial data, and efficient trial design.

He has also written government papers on evidence based policy, and founded a successful global campaign for research transparency. His book Bad Science reached #1 in the UK non-fiction charts and has sold over half a million copies worldwide. A longer bio is here, and he is on twitter here.

Hilary Winstanly
PA / Administration

Hilary is PA to Ben and provides administrative support to the DataLab team. She has a BA (Hons) International Politics with majors in Political Science, English and Classical Culture. Hilary is also a Dealer in Antiques and Collectables specialising in an eclectic mix of objet d’art.

Seb Bacon
Chief Technical Officer

Seb Bacon is a manager, analyst, and programmer with a lifelong interest in “civic tech”. He is responsible for all the the software-related outputs of the DataLab. Prior to the DataLab, he was CTO at OpenCorporates, creating the largest open database of corporate data in the world. Elsewhere, he has been responsible for the design and deployment of the international Freedom of Information software, Alaveteli; and was founder of Democracy Club, an organisation dedicated to transparency in the operation of UK elections.

Amir Mehrkar
Senior Clinical Researcher

Amir is a general practitioner with over 10 years of experience in senior leadership roles in health technology, including: interim Chief Medical Officer of NHS Digital, where Amir wrote the organisation’s clinical informatics governance framework; CCIO of Orion Health (EMEA) and CCIO of one of the UK’s biggest shared care records; co-founder of a free educational event (INTEROPSUMMIT), and INTEROPen, the UK’s first interoperability community, with over 300 supplier and NHS organisations as members, where Amir led the creation of the UK’s first interoperability data standards in FHIR.

Richard Croker
Pharmaceutical adviser

Richard is the pharmaceutical adviser for OpenPrescribing at the DataLab. He has worked as a pharmaceutical adviser for the NHS for 15 years, and is currently also the Head of Medicines Optimisation for Northern, Eastern and Western Devon CCG. He has a BSc in Pharmacy from the University of Portsmouth, and an MSc in Health Informatics from Swansea University, where his dissertation centred on the validity of prescribing denominators. He also spends his time applying medicines optimisation principles to improving pathology services in the NHS.

Brian MacKenna
Honorary Research Fellow Pharmacist

Brian is a pharmacist in the NHS England Medicines and Diagnostics Policy Unit and is working with EBM Datalab on the Open Prescribing project to facilitate improvements in patient care through the better use of medicines data. Brian was previously Clinical Fellow to the English Chief Pharmaceutical Officer, Dr. Keith Ridge, and Deputy Head of Medicines Optimisation at Islington Clinical Commissioning Group. Brian previously worked in a variety of hospitals, in London and Australia. Brian has also completed his Masters in Public Health at King’s College and has a specialist interest in pharmacomedy.

Jess Morley
Policy lead

Jess is policy lead in the DataLab team looking at how actionable policy research can enable better use of health data. Jess has spent the last 7 years working in data and digital policy, most recently as the AI Subject Matter Expert for NHSX . Jess has a BA in geography from St. Anne’s College Oxford, an MSc in social sciences of the Internet from the Oxford Internet Institute, and is currently studying for her DPhil entitled "Designing an Algorithmically Enhanced NHS" also at the Oxford Internet Institute where she is a member of the Digital Ethics Lab.

Helen Curtis
Researcher

Helen is a researcher in the DataLab team, focusing on the OpenPrescribing project.

She has three years of NHS Data Analysis experience, working in a Commissioning Support Unit primarily with secondary care data. She has a DPhil in Genetics from here at Oxford and a Natural Sciences (Cell Biology and Maths) degree from the University of Durham.

Alex Walker
Researcher

Alex is an epidemiologist in the DataLab team at the University of Oxford, with a particular interest in database linkage, time course analysis, risk stratification, prognosis modelling and novel computational methods in epidemiology. Before coming to Oxford he was a Senior Research Fellow at The University of Nottingham, where he worked on a variety of projects relating to several disease areas, including; hepatitis C, cancer and venous thromboembolism. His work to date has mostly focused on using routinely collected data –data sources such as the CPRD, HES and ONS data– to answer pragmatic and clinically relevant questions. He completed his PhD in the Division of Epidemiology and Public Health at Nottingham, which involved pharmacoepidemiology, commonly prescribed drugs and cancer. Before that he completed a MSc in Oncology and a BSc in Biochemistry and Genetics.

Nicholas DeVito
Researcher

Nicholas is a researcher at the DataLab working on Research Integrity, a topic he has been passionate about since his time as an undergraduate. Prior to joining the DataLab he worked at Columbia University’s Center on Medicine as a Profession in New York studying the impact of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act. He also has experience working in and with the pharmaceutical industry. Nicholas completed his undergraduate degree at Cornell University and his MPH in Health Policy and Administration at the Yale School of Public Health. Nick is especially interested in thinking about ways to mix the qualitative and quantitative in order to deliver comprehensive and compelling results.

Caroline Morton
Researcher/Developer

Caroline is an epidemiologist and developer in the DataLab team. She has an interest in applying computational methods to epidemiological problems and developing ways for research to be more open. Before coming to Oxford, she worked at Imperial College London teaching medical students how to program to solve problems in the NHS and in research. She also works as a GP Registrar in East London.

Tom Ward
Consultant Software Developer

Tom Ward is a Consultant Developer / Devops Engineer / Sysadmin, with over fifteen years professional experience working with web technologies, mostly for small companies and startups, with a particular interest in open data. He has a BSc (Hons) Computer Science from Warwick University, and an MMus Music Performance (Jazz) from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. When not glued to a hot git repo, Tom can be found playing at music festivals and in small basements across Europe and beyond.

Peter Inglesby
Consultant Programmer

Peter is a programmer working mainly on OpenPrescribing.net.

He has a BA in Mathematics and an MPhil in Environment, Society and Development from Cambridge. He chaired PyCon UK in 2016 and 2017.

Will Hulme
Statistician

Will is a statistician focusing on the OpenSAFELY research platform since joining in April 2020. He is interested in improving how routinely-collected health data can be used for prediction and inference, also in improving transparency and reusability of research data and code. He has a BSc in Mathematics and an MSc in Operational Research from the University of Edinburgh and a PhD from the University of Manchester. He has held various research and teaching roles in academia, the NHS, and non-profits, and is a Software Sustainability Institute 2020 Fellow.

Dave Evans
Consultant Programmer

Dave is a consultant programmer working on the Open Prescribing project within the DataLab. He has spent the last ten years helping companies (from startups to multinationals) produce better software and is excited about applying these skills in the world of healthcare.

He has a BA and an MPhil in Philosophy from Cambridge.

Anna Rowan
Medicines Analyst

Anna is an analyst in the NHS England & Improvement Medicines Analysis Team and has joined the Datalab on a part-time secondment. Since joining NHSE&I Anna has led projects for the Medicines Value Programme and recently analysis on COVID-19 medicines supply. Before joining NHSE&I Anna was a government operational research analyst working at the Department for Education and the Department for Work and Pensions.

George Hickman
Consultant Programmer

George is a consultant programmer working on OpenSAFELY tooling. George has spent the last ten years working with start-ups, agencies and his own consultancy helping technical teams to build better software. He is enjoying building tools to support medical research.

Simon Davy
Consultant Programmer

Simon is a Consultant Programmer, with a focus on the operation and security of the various DataLab software projects. He has over 15 years experience with developing and operating high traffic web services, with a focus on deployment pipelines and system observability. Within the healthcare domain, he was the initial lead developer for the National Pathology Exchange, and is delighted to be working in the public health arena again. He has a BSc in Computing and a PhD in AI for Clouds from the University of Leeds.