$3m investment into Oxford spin out to strengthen pathogen surveillance
The funding from The Rockefeller Foundation will support Oxford investigations into COVID-19, as well as help to prevent future threats such as monkeypox and climate driven infectious diseases.
1 November 2022
At the 2022 World Health Summit today in Berlin, The Rockefeller Foundation announced $3 million in new funding for Global.health (G.h) – a first-of-its-kind, open-source platform for scientific pandemic data – to expand its international partnerships and modernize the global effort for coordinated pandemic prevention, surveillance, and response.
Co-developed by researchers and engineers at the Department of Biology, University of Oxford and Boston Children’s Hospital, USA, Global.health enables access to real-time, anonymized health data on infectious disease outbreaks, for the first time. The G.h database already holds over 100 million detailed, verified, harmonized, and de-identified SARS-CoV-2 case records from more than 130 countries: the most comprehensive repository of COVID-19 data in the world.
What began as a volunteer-driven data science project at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Global.health has grown into a scalable and flexible data platform that sets a new standard for open, granular, and standardized case data. This information will be a vital resource for epidemiologists and public health leaders to model and mitigate the spread of emerging infectious diseases.
In 2022, for example, Global.health’s curated and validated monkeypox case dataset became one of the most comprehensive and cited resources in the crucial first 100 days of the global outbreak.
An example of the geospatial data visualisation that allows users to explore Global.health’s COVID-19 line-list dataset through a few different views. Credit: Global.health
The total Monkeypox cases chartted over time, taken from Global.health datasets. The G.h team completed a 100 days mission to provide early situational awareness through open-access, global line-list data for the 2022 monkeypox outbreak. Credit: Global.health
Dr. Moritz Kraemer, Co- Founder of Global.health and Associate Professor at the Department of Biology at the University of Oxford, commented:
“This new funding from The Rockefeller Foundation will allow us to dive deeper into which data and interventions have the most impact for controlling disease outbreaks at different stages of a pandemic. These are critical steps to advancing pandemic prevention and response as the threats from climate driven infectious diseases are increasing.”
This grant will enable Global.health to pursue priority initiatives, including:
Evaluating the impact of different data sources to define which data points are most useful during the early stages of an outbreak (first 100 days).
Developing scalable and robust open-source algorithms and data pipelines to detect and predict the emergence and geographic spread of new COVID-19 Variants of Concern (VOCs) globally.
Combining human mobility data with network science algorithms to optimally configure and distribute public health interventions during emerging epidemics beyond the constraints of country or state borders.
Creating open-source methods and frameworks for pandemic response analyses, so outputs can be directly usable by groups engaged in the broader ecosystem of pandemic preparedness. This will also improve the translation of science into practical applications that are scalable and fast enough for real-world outbreak response.
Cultivating working groups with international teams of scientists, prioritizing lower and middle-income countries to co-develop applications and translate them into real-world impact as they are being generated. Conferences, workshops, and funded collaborations will foster a global team of scientists from around the world. This includes collaborative research and scientific projects and training specific to the tools and methods developed through this grant funding.