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Mr Andrew Boyd

ALSPAC, Record Linkage, Research Governance, Research Infrastructure

Andy is a data scientist specializing in the use of linked routine records to augment cohort study databanks. Andy’s main research interests lie in developing data science infrastructure and methods designed to maximize the effectiveness of cohort studies. This includes participant focused activities (e.g. designing recruitment, consenting, engagement and tracing strategies) and infrastructure focused activities (e.g. building effective governance frameworks, technological infrastructure and disclosure control methodologies). His work is split between operational and research roles. Operationally, he directs the technical aspects of the ‘Project to Enhance Aetiological research through Record Linkage’ (PEARL). Within PEARL Andy has built a successful track record of securing the legal basis for, and access to, the governmental routine records of study participants. Key to this success has been establishing the requisite governance (Data Safe Haven) and security (ISO27001) frameworks to conduct this work in a legal and socially acceptable manner. Principally, PEARL focuses on enhancing the ALSPAC birth cohort through linkage, although increasingly the team is applying its expertise and systems to support other studies. PEARL facilitates diverse research projects, including those utilising the ALSPAC databank and RCT follow-up studies. Here, Andy supports users to interpret and use these complex, big, data in a secure and effective manner within epidemiological investigations.  

While Andy’s background is in information technology (software application design and database administration), he is transitioning to an academic role. Andy leads several CLOSER cohort consortium work packages designed to harmonise approaches to record linkage and to address regulatory barriers. Andy is also leads a NERC/MRC award to develop methods to link natural environment records to participant location information held by cohort studies. Andy is now working towards a PhD in research methodology relating to the use of linked records in observational research.