UCL Institute of Health Informatics


Accessing CALIBER resources

View the CALIBER project cycle

The CALIBER resource

What is CALIBER?

CALIBER is an established research platform consisting of a combination of highly trained staff, data resources and tools, specialised infrastructure, and training and support, led from the Farr Institute of Health Informatics Research at UCL.

What data are represented within CALIBER?

Data are ‘research ready’ variables extracted from linked NHS electronic health records and administrative health data.  Data sources used to develop the CALIBER resource, including primary care (the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD)), secondary care (Hospital Episode Statistics inpatient, outpatient, A&E and diagnostic imaging dataset data) and national registry social deprivation and mortality data from the Office for National Statistics are available for research. A full list of data sources available for linkage for research by the CPRD can be accessed at: https://www.cprd.com/recordLinkage/.

Coded data for up to 10 million people up to March 2016, with approximately 400 million person-years of follow-up, are available including patient sociodemographic characteristics, diagnoses of all rare and common diseases, clinical risk factors, medical history, diagnostic tests and procedures including blood results, and prescriptions and vaccinations.

Who can apply to use CALIBER resources?

CALIBER operates a collaboration-driven data sharing model and prioritises collaborations based on scientific-added value, capacity development and sustainable funding.  We work alongside academic, National Health Service and commercial partners to facilitate collaboration and use of the CALIBER platform.

How can I apply to use CALIBER resources?

Initial enquiries should be directed to Natalie Fitzpatrick, Data science facilitator: contact@caliberresearch.org

The steps involved are summarised in the CALIBER project cycle figure below. Projects will be reviewed for feasibility by the CALIBER Data Lab team and availability of funding. All projects must subsequently be approved by the Clinical Practice Research Datalink Independent Scientific Advisory Committee (ISAC), the non-statutory expert advisory body which oversees access to linked CPRD data for research purposes (https://www.cprd.com). Researchers must sign a data access & non-disclosure agreement agreeing to cite CALIBER in papers submitted for publication and sharing scripts in the CALIBER portal. All papers submitted for publication must refer to CPRD using standardised wording that is available on request from the CALIBER Data Lab team. Any party using CPRD data will need to have a direct or sub-licence to CPRD data. UCL collaborators will be covered under the UCL institutional licence.

What happens after my project is approved?

Researchers will complete a data specification form and data linkage will be carried out by the CPRD. Anonymised data will then be transferred using secure methods into the UCL data safe haven, where they will be made available to approved researchers named on the ISAC who have undergone relevant information governance, data safe haven and CPRD (online eLearning) training.

The Data Lab will work closely with researchers to define and extract the cohort (dataset) according to agreed specifications. Researchers will be guided through the whole process by the CALIBER data facilitator.


Access to CALIBER resources - Fees

Access to CALIBER resources  is free. Charges will apply to cover data management and support (cohort definition, data extraction) and use of specialised infrastructure such as the Data Portal and the safe haven environment. We encourage researchers to consider these costs in grant applications.

A guide to fees can be found here. Costs will vary according to the type of organisation/affiliation.

To discuss costs or if you have any questions, please email Natalie Fitzpatrick, Data science facilitator.

Resources and Capacity building 

What training and support are available?

The Farr Institute has extensive experience in completing ISAC applications and can help guide you through the process. CPRD has an established online training module which should be completed by investigators with no previous experience with CPRD data. Our Institute also offers specialist training to equip researchers with the skills and knowledge to code and analyse large, linked datasets. A series of taught short courses are available spanning a wide range of basic and applied health research applications including how to use national patient data in research, and courses on genomics and ehealth, data visualisation, SQL and information governance.  More information about our courses is available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/farr-short-courses/programme.     

What is the CALIBER Data Portal and how do I register to access the portal?

To facilitate research and promote transparency, all definitions of research variables using data sources in CALIBER are available in the public domain and are available to view on the CALIBER data portal, an interactive online repository of phenotyping algorithms defining over 90 diseases and metadata.

To request access to the CALIBER Data Portal, please click here.

What type of computer and eInfrastructure is available and how can I access it?

CALIBER research is supported through provision of access to specialised infrastructure including 300 terabytes of high performance data storage platforms to support computationally intensive research. All data are made available to researchers in a secure data safe haven environment located at UCL IHI/Farr Institute, London and which may be accessed remotely.

How do I set up an account on the data safe haven?

Once your project proposal (ISAC) has been approved, please email Natalie Fitzpatrick who will coordinate your registration with the UCL Identifiable Data Handling Service (IDHS) and set up a new share for your project on the safe haven. Training on use of the data safe haven environment and high performance computing facilities will be provided by UCL Information Services Department (ISD).

CALIBER project cycle