The Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science at the University of Oxford was established to pioneer better use of data, evidence and digital tools in healthcare and policy, maximizing the impact of interventions to achieve better results. The Institute was made possible by a generous donation from the Peter Bennett Foundation.
The Bennett Institute will bring together a diverse group of academics from various disciplines, including clinicians, software engineers, policy experts, and statisticians. They will develop and implement new methods and tools to make data and evidence more impactful around the world, thereby improving the lives of patients and citizens. Based within the Nuffield Primary Care Health Sciences Department, the Bennett Institute will enhance and expand on the work that has been undertaken to date by the DataLab.
The founding benefactor of the Peter Bennett Foundation, Peter Bennett, was born in Hong Kong and educated in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom. After a successful career in banking and hedge fund management, Peter is now dedicated to his family and to pursuing philanthropic activities. The Peter Bennett Foundation was established in 2013 to promote equity and reduce poverty through direct donations and institutional support. Working in Hong Kong, China and Southeast Asia, the Foundation supports NGOs and other organizations in the health, education and wellness sectors.
In 2016, the Foundation turned to supporting academic efforts to effect systemic change in the global community. Through the establishment and funding of the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, Peter is committed to developing and implementing better global public policies, with a focus on growth while reducing inequality. The new Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science at the University of Oxford is the latest academic effort supported by the Peter Bennett Foundation.
Peter Bennett says: “I am delighted to play a role in the creation of the Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science at the University of Oxford. This initiative builds on the existing work of the Oxford DataLab and provides secure funding to foster the growth of the Bennett Institute and facilitate its work in using data science to improve the quality of life of communities in the UK. and beyond.
“More than ever, we now have access to vast amounts of data. We have a responsibility to use, analyze, develop and apply this data in an ethical way to promote change for good – with an emphasis on targeting the right kind of growth and achieving ‘a leveling up in society. I am deeply passionate about the tools data science can provide us to facilitate positive change in a systemic way.
“The Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science is poised to innovate and lead the way in changing the face of data science, in public health, in the realm of public policy more broadly and in all disciplines and all sectors. “
“Data and evidence have proven their power to transform lives,” says Dr Ben Goldacre, currently Director of the DataLab in the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at Nuffield and Senior Director of the Bennett Institute. “This support from the Peter Bennett Foundation will help us to speed up our work quickly, to innovate in a more flexible way and to develop broad collaborations outside of medicine.”
Dr Goldacre leads a multidisciplinary team that has developed a range of new methods and open source software that generate new data and evidence, but also make them more impactful around the world. Recent releases include OpenSAFELY.org, a new analytics platform providing secure information on 58 million patient health records; and tools such as OpenPrescribe.net and TrialsTracker.net that use data to improve the quality of clinical and research services. He is currently leading a study for the Secretary of State for Health and Social Affairs on improving the use of NHS data, and is also a best-selling author.
“Our work has two defining characteristics: we stay close to work that directly improves the lives of citizens; and we share all of our work under open source licenses for everyone to review and reuse. It’s great to see strong support for this open and practical philosophy: we look forward to proving its power in the years to come. ‘
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “We are deeply grateful to the Peter Bennett Foundation for this generous donation and for its foresight in focusing on an area of such growing importance. The pandemic experience has demonstrated the centrality of data and evidence, not only in shaping sound government policies, but also in improving public health outcomes.
“Ben Goldacre and his team have shown how universities have contributed to the health and well-being of the country. I look forward to following their work in the years to come.
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