School hosts Bonn collaborators for Health Data Science Symposium

Monday 12 June 2023
Symposium presenters and attendees pose for a group photo in the School courtyard.

On Friday, 9 June, the School hosted the St Andrews-Bonn Health Data Science Symposium, marking the end of the Collaborative Research Grant awarded to Dr Silvia Paracchini, head of the University’s Neurogenetics Research Group, and Professor Markus M. Nöthen, Director of the University of Bonn’s Institute of Human Genetics. The award has facilitated access to UK Biobank data to investigate the association between genetic risk for psychiatric disorders and neuroimaging data and involved work with Canon Medical Research Europe. The presence of symposium speaker Dr Lisa Sindermann, a postdoctoral research fellow at Bonn, was also made possible by the grant. Dr Sindermann and Dr Chrissy Fell (postdoctoral researcher, St Andrews) spent the week preceding the event at Canon mastering advanced computational deep-learning methods to apply to their research.

Dean of Medicine Professor David Crossman and Professor Nöthen opened the day, highlighting the opportunities in the realm data science specifically provided by this institutional partnership. Researchers from Bonn’s Institute of Human Genetics and Department of Psychiatry and the University’s Schools of Medicine, Computer Science, and Mathematics and Statistics presented on projects harnessing data science to address various medical challenges. The presentations reflected a diverse range of multidisciplinary approaches and highlighted the need for large cross-sector collaborations.

Although the CRG award has officially ended, the collaboration will continue to grow, and this meeting served as an opportunity to set out plans for the near and long-term future. This includes arrangements for the first joint St Andrews/Bonn PhD student, who will work across the two medical faculties and be supervised by Dr Paracchini and Junior Professor in Brain Genomics Dr Andreas Forstner (Bonn).

The symposium also provided ample time for networking as presenters and attendees discussed their projects and potential opportunities for future joint projects. A delegation from the School is already scheduled to visit Bonn in September to further strengthen and expand this valuable partnership.

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