UCL Population Health Sciences


VIRTUAL EVENT: Dr Database: health surveillance in the shadow of COVID-19

07 October 2020, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Under surveillance: how is our health data being used?

The use of big data has been critical in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, but can we trust it? Join us as we explore the balancing act between improving public health and entrusting others with our data.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







UCL Faculty of Population Health Sciences

About the event

Here at UCL, our researchers are using health data to understand COVID-19 in a variety of ways – from the spread of the virus, to exploring the effects of social distancing on our mental health, to finding out how underlying health conditions affect mortality rates, to improving healthcare outcomes for vulnerable children. 

Four experts will present how they’re using our data to better understand the pandemic. A panel discussion, chaired by UCL alumna and broadcaster Vivienne Parry OBE, will follow exploring the ethical concerns and trust issues surrounding the collection and analysis of data for countering COVID-19 and improving public health.

Speakers & panelists

  • Professor Rob Aldridge | Virus Watch: applying public health data science to help stop the spread of COVID-19
  • Dr Daisy Fancourt | COVID-19 social study
  • Dr Amitava Banerjee | OurRisk.CoV: a risk calculator for the public by the public
  • Professor Ruth Gilbert | Improving healthcare outcomes for vulnerable children in a pandemic

Join our Q&A

Have a question for the panel? You can submit your questions to us ahead of the event by emailing fphs.pa@ucl.ac.uk or on Twitter @UCLPopHealthSci using the hashtag #UCLPopHealthEvents.


About the Speakers

Professor Rob Aldridge

Professor Rob Aldridge uses data and digital technologies to investigate and improve the health of the public. Rob’s research interests are broad, but he has a particular focus on making invisible populations visible by establishing the burden of disease in migrants, homeless, prisoners, sex workers and individuals with substance use disorders. Rob is a Wellcome Trust Clinical Research Career Development Fellow at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics.

More about Professor Rob Aldridge

Dr Daisy Fancourt

Dr Daisy Fancourt is Associate Professor of Psychobiology & Epidemiology and a Wellcome Research Fellow at UCL. Her research focuses on the effects of social factors on health, including loneliness, social isolation, social and community assets, arts and cultural engagement, and social prescribing.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Daisy is leading a team running the UK's largest study into the psychological and social impact of the virus, involving over 70,000 participants completing weekly surveys since lockdown started, leading to a total accumulation of over 700,000 surveys (1 every 20 seconds since lockdown came in). The data are analysed in real-time, providing weekly data to government, the World Health Organisation, and hundreds of community and third sector organisations

Daisy’s research has been recognised with awards from the British Science Association, Leverhulme Trust, Wellcome Trust, British Academy, British Federation of Women Graduates, American Psychosomatic Society, Arts and Humanities Research Council, Royal Society for Public Health and NHS England.  

More about Dr Daisy Fancourt

Dr Amitava Banerjee

After qualifying from Oxford, Dr Ami Banerjee trained as a junior doctor in Oxford, Newcastle, Hull and London. His interest in preventive cardiology and evidence-based medicine led to a Masters in Public Health at Harvard(2004/05), an internship at the World Health Organisation(2005) and DPhil in epidemiology from Oxford(2010). He was Clinical Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine at the University of Birmingham, before taking up the position of Senior Lecturer in Clinical Data Science and Honorary Consultant in Cardiology at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics in August 2015. In addition to general cardiology, he has special interest in heart failure and atrial fibrillation, and also the role of informatics and electronic health records in delivering better patient care.

More about Dr Amitava Banerjee

Professor Ruth Gilbert

Ruth Gilbert is a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health. Currently, she is the Co-Director of the Children and Families Policy Research Unit and she is Theme Lead for Public Health within Health Data Research London. Until recently, she was Deputy Director for the Administrative Data Research Centre for England, where she developed research initiatives involving cross-sectoral linkages between health and non-health data and established a record linkage methodology group. 

More about Professor Ruth Gilbert

Vivienne Parry OBE

Vivienne Parry OBE is a UCL alumna, writer and broadcaster. A scientist by training, Vivienne hosts medical programmes for BBC Radio 4, writes widely on health, presents films, facilitates many high profile conferences and trains young researchers. She is also the host of UCL's new podcast series, Coronavirus: The Whole Story. 

More about Vivienne Parry OBE