The eLIXIR study

A new partnership between scientists, doctors and IT specialists will help researchers gather huge amounts of information on common diseases associated with pregnancy.
  • Author's list

    Prof Lucilla Poston, Dr Dharmintra Pasupathy, Prof Jane Sandall, Prof Andrew Shennan, Dr Lauren Carson, Prof Robert Stewart, Prof Matthew Hoptoff, Prof David Edwards, Prof Louise Howard, Dr Ingrid Wolfe, Dr Mark Ashworth, Mr Rod Gibson and others.

Why do we need this research?

While a baby is growing in the womb, it is very sensitive to changes in its environment. Changes because of problems with a mother’s health can have long-lasting effects on the child. We also know that if a mother suffers from pregnancy complications, she herself can be more likely to suffer from other diseases later in life. These include heart disease, diabetes, and problems with mental health.

To help prevent these health risks in both mother and baby, we need to know more about how and why they develop.

What’s happening in this project?

In this project, our researchers are gathering lots of information from hospital and GP records. This will help them understand when and why diseases happen as mothers and their children age. They will also bring together the results of routine blood samples taken from pregnant women and babies to help us work out how signs of disease begin early in life.

At the moment in England, this information is scattered across lots of different places, making it difficult to use for research. Tommy’s are supporting a partnership between doctors, scientists, and IT specialists to help bring all this information together and carry on collecting it in one place from now on. This is called eLIXIR, or early-LIfe data cross-Linkage in Research.

To begin with, our researchers will collect information from a deprived area in South London with over 600,000 people, where health is worse than in other areas of England. They will link together the hospital records of pregnant women, babies and children with other information from mental health records and national databases. If the team can show that this system works, they will then expand it to include many more people, both in London and beyond.

What difference will this project make?

This new resource will help researchers to understand the entire ‘life course’ of some of the most common diseases – from pregnancy to adulthood – and help scientists and doctors work out how to stop them.

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Tommy’s funds research across the UK investigating the reasons for pregnancy complications and loss. We can keep you updated on our research news. If you're interested in being kept updated about our research and news from Tommy's, click here.