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Innovative health data projects


From apps to lab: Personal mental health datasets

Flinders University

Image: Dierk Schaefer CC0Digital footprints describe the data that are the by-product of our everyday interaction with technology. The Digital Psychiatry Research Team lead by Associate Professor Niranjan Bidargaddi at Flinders University is pioneering research into digital footprints through a range of studies involving young people and individuals with a history of depression.

In collaboration with, Australia’s leading online mental health service for young people, information on the mental health of young people was collected, including from well-being apps.

The aim of this study was to investigate how young people use readily available health promotion apps and wearables.

Another study currently underway in collaboration with the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) aims to collect genetic and health data, as well as data collected through mobile apps from individuals suffering from depression.

With support and funding from ANDS, Flinders University has now made data from these studies publicly available to other researchers. It will contribute to better supporting individuals with mental health problems through easily available technology and have tremendous value for other researchers, health app developers, health services and policy makers.

Find out more about this project

Virtual Biobank

University of Newcastle

Long time frames and red tape associated with obtaining donated clinical biopsy samples can often holdup important medical research. Inspired to tackle these delays, a consortium led by Dr Jamie Flynn, Dr Antony Martin and William Palmer from the University of Newcastle (UON)/Hunter Medical Research Institute (HMRI) instigated the Virtual Biobank Project.

The project creates ‘virtual’ copies of valuable human clinical biopsy samples and releases them on a custom-built online platform to researchers worldwide, for free.

It builds on previous work by the same team, who also founded the 3D Tissue Clearing and Lightsheet Microscopy Facility based on open source microscope designs and cutting-edge tissue clearing techniques (earning them recognition as finalists for the 2016 Eureka Prizes).

Forming the Virtual Biobank collection benefits the wider research community by providing access to the twenty 2D/3D breast cancer tissue image datasets as well as associated clinical notes, data on sample processing methods and imaging conditions.

Making this data available greatly increases the value of the biobank samples and the speed at which researchers can access them, resulting in greatly increased research efficiencies. In turn, this offers the opportunity for increased research capability in other fields like neural networking and analysis by computer scientists and engineers.

As much as possible associated metadata will be openly available. However, where ethics constraints are relevant (e.g. clinical metadata), access has been arranged through a mediated process.

A new collaboration with the UON Centre for Teaching and Learning will also convert the 3D datasets into virtual reality compatible files for a variety of educational purposes.

HiVE Platform

Griffith University

Through the Health, InnoVation and Engagement (HiVE) Platform, Griffith University is examining the technology and architecture around data and participant consent.

This project has highlighted the complexities and challenges of retrofitting consent models to existing data, as well as incorporating ethics and governance into a framework with multiple partners and data sources.