TJ17.3 MED-MI: accelerating identification of environmental impacts on health

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 2:00 PM
Room 6B (Austin Convention Center)
Brian William Golding, Met Office, Exeter, United Kingdom; and L. Fleming, A. Haines, A. Kessel, T. Bailey, C. Sabel, N. Osborne, C. Sarran, A. Cichowska, S. Hajat, and D. Bloomfield

Human health and wellbeing, the environment, and climate are intricately interconnected: and climate change has a profound effect on these relationships. To effectively investigate, we need improved facilities that link and analyse complex meteorological, environmental, and epidemiological data, building on the emerging data “mash-up” field of computational science (a “mash-up” combines data to create new applications and resources). This is a vital step to speed-up the translation of these data and analysis resources into epidemiologic, clinical, and commercial applications, and ultimately to improved health outcomes.

The main aim of the MED-MI (Medical and Environmental Data - a Mash-up Infrastructure) Partnership is to create and exploit a web-based platform that facilitates geographical and temporal linkage of health, socio-economic and climate databases with the aim of identifying new predictive relationships. It will provide a common resource for medical and public health research in the UK and beyond.

Existing databases, currently stored in various locations and organisations, will be combined in a consistent temporal and spatial framework, enabling climate, weather and environment data to be linked and analysed with health and socio-economic data. The MED-MI Platform will be housed at the University of Exeter to manage and facilitate data storage and access. With appropriate confidentiality and ethical safeguards approved by the UK Medical Research Council, the platform will be available to UK and other researchers. The programme is a collaboration between the European Centre of Environment and Human Health of the University of Exeter, the UK Met Office, the UK Health Protection Agency, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Translational applications will use the platform to: a) facilitate novel research into environmental exposure-human health models; b) identify “hot spots” (locations and points in time with convergent increased environmental and human health risks) for targeted research; c) provide healthcare practitioners and public health planners with the relevant information for forward planning of services in locations and populations identified at risk; d) initiate and evaluate interventions to reduce exposure, and thus health effects at both individual and population levels; e) disseminate and provide access to data as part of outreach and engagement, demonstrating the interdependence between climate, weather, environment, and human health and wellbeing.

The capabilities of the MED-MI platform will be demonstrated by an initial set of demonstration projects selected according to availability of suitable data sets; expected impacts of climate, weather and the environment; and potential clinical and public health relevance, especially in terms of being able to evaluate impacts and changes over time and place in vulnerable populations, within the following themes: 1. Solar irradiance, vitamin D, and acute/chronic diseases 2. Extreme temperatures, air quality, and morbidity and mortality 3. Climate, weather, and infectious diseases 4. Algal blooms and acute/chronic diseases

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