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Bradford Hill Seminar – Tackling Bias and Inequities in Health and Genomic Data

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Abstract Data and digital technology are now being used in all aspects of research, innovation and healthcare, but how do we ensure that the entire healthcare system benefits from these advanced technologies, specifically so that all people, especially those in underserved populations, receive the same quality of research benefit and care from innovations? This talk will discuss the intersection of data science, health and equity, illustrated by the inequities rife in genomics. Studies of human genetics have largely focused on populations from WEIRD (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) countries which has resulted genomic insights that are not generalizable to all populations. Most studies, trials and papers conclude with a call to action to recruit and use more diverse genomes, and yet the proportion of non-European ancestries in genomic studies is diminishing.

To address this gap, we must work across the whole pipeline of genomic research and health care delivery, from the populations we work with and the data we collect, to the analyses we carry out and the availability of genetic testing. This talk will cover the complex challenges taking an end-to-end approach to diversifying health and genomic data involves, and what we might do to reduce bias in our data-driven systems in precision medicine – something Maxine and her team are trying to do via the Diverse Data initiative at Genomics England.

About Dr Mackintosh Maxine leads the Diverse Data initiative at Genomics England, which aims to reduce health inequalities in genomic medicine by ensuring patients, regardless of their background, receive the same quality of genomics-enabled personalised medicine, supported by the latest research on people like them. Maxine is also the co-founder of One HealthTech – a global, volunteer-led, grassroots community that supports and promotes under-represented groups in health innovation. OHT has over 20,000 contributors worldwide across 20 Hubs which have collectively delivered over 1000 events, projects, campaigns and initiatives improving diversity in healthtech.

She also set up Data Science for Health Equity, a community of practice that brings together those with expertise in data science and health inequalities to connect and collaborate on cutting-edge domains in health. She has been part of a number of communities and committees including being a Non-Executive Director for the Eastern Academic Health Science Network, a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers, and the British Computer Society (Health Exec) and the DeepMind Health Independent Review Board. She also really really likes fancy dress.

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill Seminars series.

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