Discovering the role of big data in driving early infectious disease detection

Since the introduction of antimicrobials, starting with penicillin in the 20th century, these life-saving drugs have revolutionised our society and economy. Previously deadly diseases have become routine ailments, requiring little more than a brief treatment.

However, due to a range of factors, including rising antimicrobial resistance, infectious disease threats are (re-)emerging, altering the epidemiology and spread of disease in a changing global environment. Drivers such as climate change and associated environmental impacts, population growth, unplanned urbanisation and high mobility, as well as animal husbandry or intensive farming practices, also contribute to this process.

H2020 BHC-13-2019: Mining big data for early detection of infectious disease threats driven by climate change and other factors

To combat this challenge, novel tools for infectious disease diagnostics and surveillance, e.g. those based on next-generation sequencing, as well as surveillance data, health registries and societal data are promising tools – provided the IT technologies are available to integrate such data sets. This should enable the rapid and personalised treatment of infected patients, and bolster the detection, tracking and control of infectious disease outbreaks.

Envisioned outcomes

As outcomes of a project under this call, the EC envisions the development of 1) technology to allow the pooling and analysis of all relevant data, 2) bio-informatics methodologies to allow risk modelling and mapping and 3) analytical tools for early warning, monitoring and risk assessment.

Deadline and budget

The deadline for submissions of full proposals to this call is the 16th of April 2019, and the budget for projects is between €12 million and €15 million.

What does your consortium need to stand out in this competition?

For a consortium to successfully tackle this challenge, apart from a strong main applicant, a determining factor is the strength and complementarity of the consortium. Together, the consortium partners should have all the expertise, infrastructure, management and networking capabilities to bring this project to a successful conclusion.

Critical success factors:

Considering the challenge described, several critical factors can be identified, including:

  • Access to a variety of relevant data: public health registries, animal health surveillance, climate data, pathogen resistance profiles, societal data etc.
  • Advanced bio-informatics and modelling capabilities.
  • High performance computing and/or geo-localisation data expertise.
  • Inclusion of societal partners (NGOs, national and international public health organisations) to ensure uptake of the developed tools.

An interdisciplinary consortium

As can be concluded from the above (non-exhaustive) overview, the consortium carrying out this project should be truly interdisciplinary, with a variety of partners providing data that can be integrated and analysed by (academic and/or industry) technology experts. A third set of partners, including public health organisations and NGOs, will be required to ensure that the project results are translated into tools that align with the needs of the European and global community focusing on prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

In conclusion, as for any large-scale project, the selection of the right combination of partners, each with their own expertise and contribution to the consortium, is essential to obtain funding, and be able to find a solution for this global, urgent challenge.

Take this opportunity

Do you feel that this call will help you to bring your research closer to the market and does it fit perfectly with your expertise?  Take full advantage of this opportunity! If you would like to have some help, don’t hesitate to contact us to find out the possibilities. We are looking forward to continuing the conversation!


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