Population Research UK

Submitted by c moody on Fri, 10/29/2021 - 15:03

PRUK is a resource being established by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) to maximise the use, innovation and benefit from the UK's rich collection of longitudinal population studies (LPS) across social and economic, and biomedical science.

The goal of PRUK is to enable a greater understanding of the complex interplay between the biological, behavioural, social, economic and environmental determinants that influence health and societal wellbeing, in order to guide intervention and policy development.

Currently PRUK is in a development phase. When established, it will bring together and develop the infrastructure, processes and people that enable LPS data to be efficiently enhanced, accessed and used for research. PRUK will promote collaboration, alignment and interoperability across LPS studies and disciplinary domains as well as enable innovation by allowing researchers to address high-impact research questions that single studies cannot address alone.

The scope of PRUK will include all significant UK LPS, encompassing longitudinal population studies, panel studies and biobanks. PRUK activities will prioritise resources currently or previously funded by ESRC and MRC in the first instance. Wellcome has worked alongside UKRI to develop PRUK and may in the future consider whether to become a funding partner. 

PRUK will have strong governance with data security as a central consideration. The funders recognise the importance of the public voice on complex data sharing issues and wish to maintain people’s confidence in the use of biomedical, health and socioeconomic LPS data for research. All data donated by LPS participants is anonymized and held in a secure environment and will only be shared with bona fide users who demonstrate a justifiable reason for access.

We anticipate that PRUK will be established during 2022-23, as a result of an open competitive process.


Additional information

UK Longitudinal Population Studies (LPS) are a national asset based on the generous donation of detailed longitudinal data by participants over decades.  PRUK will maximise the potential of this data by bringing together and developing the infrastructure, processes and people that will enable LPS data to be efficiently enhanced, accessed and analysed.

PRUK is expected to:

  • help remove barriers to the use of data across multiple LPS resources, where data may have been collected in different formats 
  • broaden insights from LPS data through data linkage (between studies and to routine and other data) and capitalise on cutting-edge approaches in data capture, data storage and processing technologies and analytics
  • work with studies to develop practices and standards that ensure UK LPS infrastructures are interoperable with each other in the future and with other international LPS data-sharing initiatives
  • work with existing infrastructures to help increase policy relevance and impact through engagement of policymaker stakeholders
  • respond to the public voice on complex data-sharing issues and seek to maintain public confidence in using their biomedical, health and socioeconomic data for research.

In this way PRUK will be able to facilitate a greater research understanding of biological, behavioural, social, economic and environmental determinants of health, and the complex interplay between them, which will guide improvements in health and societal wellbeing and inform economic, health and social policy.

PRUK is funded by the UKRI Infrastructure Fund.  During 2021, the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Medical Research Council (MRC) and Wellcome commissioned Health Data Research UK (HDR UK) to undertake a scoping programme to inform where more action was needed to maximise the research potential of LPS data. Fundamental to the scoping programme was consultation with both the LPS community and wider stakeholders and to learn from current LPS and existing data resources. The resultant prospectus outlines possible activities and a structure for Population Research UK (PRUK).   One of the findings highlighted in the prospectus was that further work to facilitate data sharing is needed and in response to this need, ESRC and MRC are commissioning two key workstreams.

First, we are pleased to announce that CLOSER will complete a comprehensive audit, gathering information across UK LPS on the status of individual study data. Gathering and summarising the information currently available will help the funders to gain a good understanding of what would be required, on a case-by-case basis, to bring arrangements up to the required level to support data sharing with the wider research community. Secondly, ESRC and MRC will shortly be commissioning a programme of work to develop and expand existing training opportunities to enable wider sharing and use of LPS resources, developed in collaborative consultation with LPS teams to help ensure that needs are appropriately met and existing expertise and best practices in training are identified and shared.

These measures will help ensure that LPS resources are well-aligned to take advantage of PRUK and any future opportunities. For more information and to keep abreast of PRUK developments, please revisit this site. We expect to provide the link to a dedicated mailing list here in the near future.


Biological Sciences, Health & Food
E-Infrastructure & Data
Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities
Public Policy or Delivering Public Services
Population Health Sciences
Socioeconomic Sciences
Longitudinal Population Studies
Data management
Data linkage
Cohort studies



Cartoon of population showing timeline and data

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