News and Events

News and Events

13 October 2021


Blog: The Value of International Collaborations in Population Research

Dr Lisa N. Sharwood, Epidemiologist & Research Fellow, The Black Dog Institute, Australia

In an unprecedented time for the entire world, when we are challenged at home, at work, in our health services and in research, the value of international collaboration in population research has never been more important. International collaboration has been critical during the Covid-19 pandemic to share time critical information about the rapidly changing coronavirus disease. This collaboration has also helped to harness and synergise scientific expertise around the world and to inform treatment and recovery across populations. We need to understand what works and what doesn’t; we need to help those with less resources than others; and we have learned the value of shared experiences and compassion.

As an epidemiologist and data scientist working in population level research in Sydney, Australia, I place enormous value on collaboration both locally and internationally. I have lived and worked in six different countries across three continents and travelled extensively throughout my combined clinical and research career. Short and long-term international mobility is common in research careers for various reasons including conference or collaboration experiences, travelling fellowships, engagement in established or potential projects to name a few. Some of the benefits of international collaboration in my research have included:

  • combining data concerning injuries of low incidence (such as traumatic spinal cord injury) to better understand treatment responses and moderators of patient outcomes
  • comparison of health services across numerous countries, to harmonise care and identify specific resource needs in low- and middle-income countries
  • comparison of patient outcomes in different service configurations and settings.


Equally, the adage ‘two heads are better than one’ simply expresses the importance of learning from one another, sharing methodology, sharing code, sharing data, and collectively working to reduce the health burden associated with the social determinants of health across populations.

The social determinants of health are understood as “the circumstances in which people grow, live, work, and age, and the systems put in place to deal with illness” (WHO) and are central concepts to population health. These determinants must be recognised and intentionally acted upon to continue driving toward equity in health across populations. The World Health Organisation defines health equity as “the absence of unfair and avoidable or remediable differences in health among population groups defined socially, economically, demographically, or geographically”. Collaboration is fundamental to the aspirational goal of global health equity.

A digital revolution in healthcare is rapidly underway right around the world. Healthcare data is increasingly digitised and used with greater levels of sophistication and computational capacity than ever before. Approximately 30% of the worlds data volume is being generated by the healthcare industry, with projections of compound annual growth rates of 36%. By 2025, humans are projected to experience almost 5000 digital device interactions, per capita, per day. Much of that promises to be healthcare related.

Data science can only aspire to make the best use of even some of this data if we collaborate widely and wisely.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forged different ways of working and perhaps encouraged collaborations that did not previously exist. We have learned to work more flexibly and to use multiple, creative digital methods for communication, including fully virtual conferences. While we undoubtedly eagerly await a return to the joys and benefits of international travel, some of these Covid-imposed changes have benefits that can and should remain.



Multigenerational Data Linkage: The Challenges and Opportunities of Family-Based Research

The Population Health Research Network, in association with the International Population Data Linkage Network, presents the International Symposium on Multigenerational Data Linkage.

Join us for a two-hour online event bringing together data linkage experts from Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Discussions will surround the use of family/intergenerational data, including on the ethics, data governance, and policy implications behind it, as well as the importance of analysing these datasets.

Click here to access the symposium programme.


When: Tuesday 21 September, 23.00-01.00 (GMT). The event will be recorded and sent to all those who register for the symposium.

Where: Online. Register now.


ICES Winter Forum: Data and Analytics in Critical Times

The Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), in association with Health Data Research Network Canada (HDRN Canada) and the International Population Data Linkage Network (IPDLN), presents the ICES Winter Forum.

This online event is focused on the pressing topic of data and analytics to support the Covid-19 pandemic planning and response, highlighting Ontario, Canadian and international evidence and perspectives. The yearly ICES forums share knowledge among hundreds of researchers, policymakers and decision-makers, from health system organisations and government. Formal program details will be available soon, covering the topics of vaccines, data system readiness and impacts/equity for various populations.

When: Wednesday 17 February 2021, 16:00-20.00 (GMT)

Where: Online. Register now.

13 October 2020


It has been announced today that Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) will take over the Directorship of the International Population Data Linkage Network (IPDLN) for 2021-22. The Network will be Co-Directed by Dr Emma Gordon, Director of the ADR UK Strategic Hub, and Professor Chris Dibben, Co-Director of ADR Scotland.

ADR UK is a partnership transforming the way researchers access the UK’s wealth of public sector data, to enable better informed policy decisions that improve people’s lives. As such, it is well positioned to lead and build on the progress of the IPDLN in 2021-22.

The IPDLN facilitates international communication between centres specialising in data linkage and the use of linked data for public benefit. It has around 1,100 members in 55 countries, drawn from academia, government and industry.

Directing this Network will connect ADR UK to a mutually beneficial international community of best practice, and position the partnership at the forefront of global efforts to harness the power of linked population data.

Over the 2021-22 period, the new IPDLN Co-Directors will maintain and expand the Network’s membership, promote and support the International Journal of Population Data Science, and run the next IPDLN Conference in September 2022.

IPDLN’s current Director, Dr Merran Smith, Chief Executive of the Population Health Research Network (PHRN), said: “On behalf of the IPDLN Executive Committee, I am very pleased to announce Dr Emma Gordon and Professor Chris Dibben from ADR UK as the Network’s Co-Directors for 2021-22. The close alignment of ADR UK’s mission with that of the IPDLN, as well as their experience developing their own UK partnership between government and academia, makes them an excellent fit for the role and I wish them every success as the incoming Co-Directors.

I am very grateful to Australia’s national data linkage infrastructure, the PHRN, which is funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy, for its support of my Directorship over the past two years. I also thank the IPDLN Executive Committee, PHRN Program Office staff and the many others who have provided support and helped to ensure a successful IPDLN 2020 Conference in what has been a somewhat challenging pandemic year.”

Dr Emma Gordon, Director of the ADR UK Strategic Hub and incoming Co-Director of IPDLN, said: “I am hugely excited for ADR UK to be taking forward leadership of the IPDLN for 2021-22, and the opportunities this provides.

“Since ADR UK’s inception in 2018, we have made great strides in developing partnerships between government and academia across our four nations, transforming data linkage and research access to inform policy and practice. However, exciting developments are also being made in many other countries, and taking on the IPDLN will plug us directly into the pre-emminent international community of best practice in this field, opening up countless opportunities for shared learning.”

Professor Chris Dibben, Co-Director of ADR Scotland and incoming Co-Director of IPDLN, said: “Many thanks to Dr Merran Smith for her Directorship of the IPDLN for 2019-20. I very much look forward to becoming a Co-Director, and continuing to develop partnerships with centres across the globe, from industry, academia or government that use data for public benefit. I am confident that membership of the network will continue to increase, as more researchers discover the value in data linkage, resulting in all centres benefiting from learning best practice from each other.”

Notes to editors

About ADR UK

ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) is a partnership transforming the way researchers access the UK’s wealth of public sector data, to enable better informed policy decisions that improve people’s lives.

By linking together data held by different parts of government, and by facilitating safe and secure access for accredited researchers to these newly joined-up data sets, ADR UK is creating a sustainable body of knowledge about how our society and economy function – tailored to give decision makers the answers they need to solve important policy questions.

ADR UK is made up of three national partnerships (ADR Scotland, ADR Wales, and ADR NI) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which ensures data provided by UK government bodies is accessed by researchers in a safe and secure form with minimal risk to data holders or the public.

The partnership is coordinated by a UK-wide Strategic Hub, which also promotes the benefits of administrative data research to the public and the wider research community, engages with UK government to secure access to data, and manages a dedicated research budget.

ADR UK is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation.

To find out more, visit or follow @ADR_UK on Twitter.


27 July 2020

IPDLN and IJPDS Formalise Alliance: Two Leading Population Data Science Entities Formally Linked Through MOU Signing

The International Population Data Linkage Network (IPDLN) and the International Journal of Population Data Science (IJPDS) are proud to announce their alliance with the signing of their first formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The IPDLN current Directorship is located in Perth, Australia, and the IJPDS located in Swansea, Wales, have cemented their partnership with an inaugural signing of the very first MOU.

Both parties have now formalised their shared commitment to the advancement of the field of Population Data Science and to working together to raise awareness on an international stage. The move is an endorsement of the growth in importance of the use of person-based data and data linkage techniques to positively impact and improve the lives of people and populations globally.

Director of the IPDLN, Dr Merran Smith, the University of Western Australia, said “The Memorandum of Understanding between the IPDLN and IJPDS formalises a long standing strategic partnership which has at its core the pursuit of the science related to population data. The IPDLN Executive Committee and I are very excited to strengthen and formalise our connection to IJPDS which will include reciprocal representation on the IJPDS Editorial Board and the IPDLN Executive Committee. The MOU identifies and documents the important relationship that IPDLN has with IJPDS.  We look forward to ongoing collaborations with IJPDS to support the further growth of population data science.”

The terms of the MOU clarify the nature of the relationship between the already established strategic partners, an alliance that works in concordance to promote safe, effective and quality data linkage for public good. Its significance is welcomed and acknowledged on both sides of the world:

‘‘I’m delighted that we have this agreement in place to consolidate our joint working arrangements,” says IJPDS Editor-in-Chief, Professor Kerina Jones, Swansea University, Wales. “I very much welcome the greater collaborative opportunities opening up for Population Data Science across the world through the work of IJPDS and the IPDLN."


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