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Blockchain as a means to make major medical datasets available for research

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  • Full or part time
    Prof A Anjum
    Prof L Liu
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

There are petabytes of data available within the NHS and other heath organizations. It will lead to revolutionary advancements in digital health care if these data are made widely made available for research and development. The medical community, such as NHS hospitals and clinics, currently do not share medical data for research and development activities due to ethical and legal concerns. The fundamental problem in data sharing is the lack of trust and accountability on how it will be used and whether it is being used for the intended purpose. Current distributed data management systems and tools do not offer mechanisms where the data providers can keep track of who is accessing the data and if its use is subject to the institutional ethical and legal practices. Due to this reason, very few research groups and organizations have access to medical data and this is becoming a bottleneck for ambitious research projects that require access to data to make breakthroughs in digital health such as personalized health, digital pathology, diabetic retinopathy and medical image analysis such as X-ray analytics for cancer detection.

To enable trusted data sharing across mutually distrusting parties and to make the data exchange process auditable and accountable, we propose to use a blockchain enabled data management and sharing system. Blockchain is a great technology for secure data storage, however, it struggles when large amounts of data are being stored and accessed. Blockchain has severe performance limitations and its use for sharing large scale medical data has not been investigated. In addition, currently there is limited understanding available on how the shared data will be reliably tracked and audited for compliance protocols and how to report any violations in data use. This project will investigate auditability and shareability of blockchains for large scale medical data management and exchange.


This research project is fully funded.

Home/EU Applicants
This project is eligible for a fully funded College of Science and Engineering studentship which includes:
• A full UK/EU fee waiver for 3.5 years
• An annual tax free stipend of £15,009 (2019/20)
• Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

International Applicants
This project is eligible for a partially funded College of Science and Engineering studentship which includes:
• A full UK/EU fee waiver for 3.5 years (applicants will need to provide evidence they can fund the difference between the UK/EU fee and International fee)
• An annual tax free stipend of £15,009 (2019/20)
• Research Training Support Grant (RTSG)

Entry requirements
UK Bachelor Degree with at least 2:1 in a relevant subject or overseas equivalent.

Project Specific : [Email Address Removed]
Application Specific : [Email Address Removed]

How to apply
Please refer to application advice at:


1. Ekblaw, A, Azaria, A, Halamka, JD, et al. A case study for blockchain in healthcare: “MedRec” prototype for electronic health records and medical research data. Proc IEEE Open Big Data Conf 2016; 13: 13.

2. Croman K. et al. (2016) On Scaling Decentralized Blockchains. In: Clark J., Meiklejohn S., Ryan P., Wallach D., Brenner M., Rohloff K. (eds) Financial Cryptography and Data Security. FC 2016. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 9604. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

3. I. Eyal, A. E. Gencer, E. G. Sirer, and R. van Renesse. Bitcoin-NG: A Scalable Blockchain Protocol. Technical report, CoRR, 2015

4. E. Androulaki, C. Cachin, K. Christidis, C. Murthy, B. Nguyen, and M. Vukoli´c. Next consensus architecture proposal. Hyperledger Wiki, Fabric Design Documents, available at r1/, 2016.

5. Blockchain for AI: Review and Open Research Challenges, Khaled Salah ; M. Habib Ur Rehman ; Nishara Nizamuddin ; Ala Al-Fuqaha, Page(s): 10127 –10149, 2019, DOI: 10.1109/ACCESS.2018.2890507

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