Population Data Science at Swansea University has been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its world-renowned SAIL Databank.

Healthcare professionals and data scientists are now able to carry out carry out robust research using SAIL’s comprehensive data about the Welsh and UK population data. Sitting within the Population Data Science at Swansea University, SAIL – Secure Anonymised Information Linkage Databank – brings together, links and analyses data from multiple sources to deliver population-level insights for government and policy makers.

First awarded in 1994, the Prizes are granted every two years and recognise outstanding work by UK colleges and universities, which demonstrates excellence and innovation and delivers real benefit to the wider world. The official announcement of the Prize winners took place at St James’s Palace yesterday (November, 16 2023) and the Prizes will be presented at a formal ceremony in February next year.

Vice-Chancellor of Swansea University Professor Paul Boyle said: “We are delighted to announce that Swansea University has once again been honoured with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize, a highly esteemed national recognition. This accolade acknowledges the university’s outstanding contributions to data science, conducting cutting-edge research that empowers researchers both in the UK and globally. Our work facilitates the utilisation of complex and diverse data on an unprecedented depth and scale, making significant strides in advancing knowledge and understanding.”

In the 15 years since SAIL was founded, its achievements include:

  • Providing wide-ranging Covid-19 research and fast-response, data driven policy intelligence for the Welsh and UK governments;
  • Performing as the national data linkage and access system for all public data in Wales, securely curating data from every sector and more than 500 organisations;
  • Providing data linkage and banking services for many global initiatives, including shared data from over 30 countries in support of the International Covid-19 Data Alliance initiative9; and,
  • Enhancing the evidence base for policymakers, which helps them to understand the relationships between their service provisions to improve people’s lives.

Co-director of Population Data Science at Swansea University and SAIL Databank, Professor Ronan Lyons said: “I am delighted that the work of the fantastic SAIL team has been recognised in this award. SAIL is truly a team science endeavour in which academia, the NHS, many public sector organisations and members of the public collaborate to study many issues of importance to the Welsh and global populations.”

Co-director of Population Data Science at Swansea University and SAIL Databank, Professor David Ford said: “Since we established the SAIL Databank more than 15 years ago, we have worked with thousands of researchers and many hundreds of research projects.  We never imagined however that we would be called upon to play a part in tackling a global emergency on the scale of COVID-19.  We are therefore absolutely thrilled that the massive efforts of the SAIL team and a dedicated army of collaborators across the NHS, government and academia, have been recognised by this prize.

The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our work on COVID-19 is perhaps the most prestigious award we have ever earned.  It is undoubtedly a fantastic achievement – the competition from across the UK was extremely strong.  While SAIL Databank is the focus for this prize, the success was of course due to so many people, working together, under the ‘One Wales’ umbrella.  Everyone in the Population Data Science, the Welsh NHS and Welsh Government who played a part, no matter how big or small, should feel rightly proud.”