SWANSEA University’s National Centre for Population Health & Wellbeing Research has received a funding boost of £1.4 million from the Medical Research Council (MRC) to lead a new research collaboration. The Mother & Infant Research Electronic Data Analysis (MIREDA) partnership is aimed at improving maternal and infant health by developing new resources and tools for research using routinely collected data.
MIREDA brings together leading researchers from Swansea, the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London, the University of Nottingham, the University of Birmingham, and the Bradford Institute for Health Research. The partnership’s objective is to address inequalities in society that frequently start at the earliest stages of life. Behaviors such as drug and alcohol use can affect a baby’s development before and after birth, with implications that can last a lifetime. Poverty, disadvantage, and associated poor health are major challenges facing many communities, and it has never been more important to understand how best to protect future generations.
To achieve this objective, MIREDA will shape understanding and inform interventions by creating a UK resource that includes harmonized maternal and infant birth-cohort health data linked to local datasets in public health, neonatal health, imaging, primary care, and hospitals. The partnership will establish a multidisciplinary collaboration to undertake analysis in each cohort without needing to move the data. Additionally, MIREDA will develop methods for data standardization and common data management across datasets and implement software for automating epidemiological study methods.
MIREDA will also work with others to build research capacity and networks in the field using online and face-to-face workshops, seminars, conferences, and research development group meetings to share knowledge and skills. Furthermore, the partnership will provide pump-priming funding to support rising-star researchers and international maternal and infant health collaborations. It will also leverage additional funds for research to improve maternal care and infant outcomes.
According to Professor Sinead Brophy, Director of the Centre for Population Health and lead on the partnership, “The Centre is committed to ensuring that Wales is at the forefront of developing population health capabilities and research around maternal and infant health. We greatly look forward to working with our partners over the next three years to develop and deliver MIREDA. The timing for this partnership has never been so important. As disadvantage and deprivation become ever-more pressing societal issues, it is becoming increasingly urgent to mitigate the risks to maternal and infant health that are strongly associated with them.”
Professor Kieran Walshe, Director of Health and Care Research Wales, added: “We are delighted to see this innovative and exciting partnership putting maternal and infant health at the forefront of Welsh research capability. We look forward to seeing the MIREDA partnership develop with colleagues from across the UK and with welcome support from the MRC to help improve real-life outcomes in maternal and infant health.”
MIREDA represents an exciting opportunity for leading researchers from multiple universities to collaborate and pool their expertise to tackle the pressing issue of maternal and infant health. The partnership’s work will aim to address the root causes of poverty, disadvantage, and associated poor health, which frequently start in the earliest stages of life. By developing new resources and tools for research using routinely collected data, MIREDA has the potential to improve maternal and infant health outcomes and help break the cycle of poverty.