Big Answers to Big Questions - Can Data Science, Big Data and Technology transform Public Health?
01 Jun 2017
Reading time ~3 minutes
The implementation of data science and big data is transforming the worlds of technology, finance, entertainment, retail, travel, sport and healthcare. In our research group at the University of Oxford, we’re applying them to public health research, using data science and big data to find big answers to some of the big questions and problems that affect us today. We’re looking at population-level approaches to diet and nutrition research, specifically working on three exciting projects related to analysis of online supermarket data, and how to have an impact on public health.
We currently have three novel and related research projects, funded by the National Institute for Health Research: the development and analysis of a database of food and drink products available to purchase in the UK; evaluation of interventions aimed at increasing the healthiness of online supermarket purchases; and an evaluation of the impact of the UK sugar drink industry levy. These projects are based on two existing research tools: foodDB and myShop.
foodDB is a unique time-stamped and regularly updated database of all foods and drinks available for purchases in the major UK online supermarkets. This database allows us to monitor a large section of the food supply in the UK, and is a huge improvement on current methods of monitoring the food supply. Data is systematically and regularly collected on nutritional quality, ingredients, price, recommended serving size and details of promotions.
myShop is a unique tool that is a platform for a number of research projects, and is an exciting example of citizen science in action. myShop will be available for anyone to use, and has two public-facing interfaces: a browser extension that provides users with an enhanced shopping experience when shopping online, and an associated web application that helps users to track their shopping and make healthier food purchases.
Join the team 😄👍
We’re now looking to recruit a new Data Scientist to be part of our team and help drive these projects forward, and have an important impact in some of the greatest challenges of our time. It’s an incredibly exciting project, and we hope you’ll be interested in joining us to:
- Help to find the big answers to big questions in public health, tackling obestity, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases
- Use data science, big data, and cutting edge technology in a real world setting to help people live healthier, happier lives
- Work in the brand new Big Data Institute, the world’s largest health big data institute, home of UK Biobank, China Kadoorie Biobank, and the Malaria Atlas Project
- Conduct research at the intersection of technology, data, science, diet, nutrition and public health
- Help to realise the potential of citizen science
- Be part of a fantastic, fun, interesting, multidisciplinary, and growing team
- Have the flexibility to explore, create, innovate and develop your own research projects
Who we’re looking for
We’re looking for someone who loves creating, building and delivering digital solutions, is data-driven and knows how to manipulate data and solve problems creatively. Whether you’re looking to move from industry, or have worked in a related field, if the challenge of making a difference to public health, building and using fantastic technology, digging into large datasets, and having fun at the same time, is of interest, take a look at the official details, and we’d love you to submit an application. There’s lots more info on the vacancy pages of the Big Data Institute, or if you want further information, please contact me (@harringr) and Pete Scarborough (@pete_scarbs). Applications close on 23rd June so get them in early…. go on…. you know you want to!