UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences


UCL and HKU enter into promising strategic partnership on medication safety using big data

21 November 2018

UCL and HKU (The University of Hong Kong) have established a new strategic partnership with the aim of improving health outcomes and quality of life for patients through interdisciplinary research that addresses research questions central to medication.


The new agreement encourages staff and students to build on extensive existing relationships between the two institutions by developing new research collaborations. The launch event for the collaborative partnership took place on November 19, 2018 at the LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong (HKUMed).

UCL School of Pharmacy is the oldest school of pharmacy in England and its Pharmacoepidemiology and Medication Safety Research Cluster is one of the leading research units in the UK with an international reputation and a track record of high quality publications using healthcare big data from the UK.

HKUMed is the longest established institution of higher education of Hong Kong. The Centre for Safe Medication Practice and Research at the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy is a leading research unit in Asia for medication safety. It also has a strong track record of excellent publications in medication safety using healthcare big data from Hong Kong and Asia.

The BPharm (Bachelor of Pharmacy) programme at HKUMed is entering its 10th anniversary and commands a prime position within the University, with the highest achievers in the local DSE examinations regularly being recruited to the course. One of the key directives for research and education at HKU is an emphasis on Inter-professional and International learning.

The collaboration with UCL firmly establishes one such key international link, allowing for skill sharing, interdisciplinary approaches, and a wider population base for research to draw on. This will greatly enhance the breadth and quality of medication safety research that the institutions can produce and provides the perfect opportunity to kick start the 10th anniversary celebration of the BPharm programme.

At the launch event today Guest of Honour Professor Sophia Chan, Secretary for Food and Health, said: "The Government attaches great importance to medication safety and has put in a lot of effort in ensuring that medicines in Hong Kong are safe, efficacious and of good quality. 

The launch of the HKU-UCL Collaboration is a timely and significant initiative in enhancing medication safety. I have strong confidence that the HKU-UCL Collaboration will play a pivotal role in the global research on medication safety and bring significant contribution to the protection of public health."

Big data in relation to healthcare refers to health data amassed from sources such as electronic health records (EHRs), including medication prescription and adverse drug reaction records, pathology results, medical imaging, use of medical devices and epidemiology data.

Merging these large datasets effectively allows our scientists to analyse larger populations in greater detail and more rapidly than ever before. This produces results that are more valid and reliable, and therefore allow better prediction of health and quality of life outcomes when looking at medication safety.

With extensive expertise in medication safety research and healthcare big data research from both the HKUMed Department of Pharmacology & Pharmacy and UCL School of Pharmacy, this strategic collaboration will be synergistic and productive.

The two units have already been working together over the past three years and have jointly published over 15 papers in internationally reputable journals, including JAMA, JAMA Internal Medicine, JAMA Psychiatry, BMJ and Gastroenterology, and GUT

Both the Hong Kong and British governments have selected biomedical and big data science as strategic research areas. It is hoped that by building upon HKU’s and UCL’s existing successes the formation of an international research consortium will further strengthen and leverage their research capacities in healthcare big data research.

recent study by Dr. Esther Chan (HKUMed) and Dr Wallis Lau (UCL) demonstrates the importance of big data and its impact on the development of medication safety.

Professor Geraint Rees, Dean of UCL Life Sciences, said: “We are honoured to be an institutional-level partner of the University of Hong Kong and are delighted to be celebrating a new strand of our ever-deepening partnership. One of the most effective ways that real-world problems can be addressed is through partnership working which is why this collaboration is so important. Together, our scientists have already achieved so much in furthering knowledge about medication safety using big data. We look forward to seeing and celebrating many more exciting developments from this collaboration which have the true potential to transform patient outcomes for the better.”

Professor Gabriel Leung, HKU’s Dean of Medicine, said, "We are profoundly excited by the announcement of the new strategic collaboration between HKU and UCL on medication safety research and big data science. Institutional partnerships allow us to draw on the varied strengths of both faculties to better tackle research questions and real-world problems. We hope that through these interdisciplinary efforts we not only further the body of knowledge around medication safety, but also advance the frontiers of big data based medical research and by doing so contribute to the wider public good in Hong Kong, the UK, and beyond."



Media contact 

Bex Caygill

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 3846 / +44 (0)7733 307 596

Email: r.caygill [at] ucl.ac.uk