Former NHS data analyst Antony Lee was searching for some research information when he found the HDRUK-Wellcome Turing PhD programme on our website – and now he’s one of the 2022 student cohort.

Originally from Leeds. where he had an interest in mathematics as a school pupil, he brings a wealth of different skills and experiences to health data science research.

He took a first degree in mathematical physics at the University of Nottingham – becoming so fascinated by the subject that he ended up taking a PhD and doing two years of postdoctoral research in the same field.

The subject matter Antony was dealing with was purely theoretical and after a while he wanted to use his skills in an area with real world applications. This took him into data analytics, initially working for a business that helped the MoD with its systems.

After that he shifted to the NHS and spent more than five years with everything from hospitals through to national data collection organisations.

He said: “The whole idea was to make sure that we were delivering healthcare as effectively as possible. So that meant the best use of resources, fastest times possible, best outcomes for patients, things like this.”

“I really enjoyed it. It’s very tangible – real people doing real things. I could actually get to understand about people’s healthcare and improve it.”

However the organisations Antony was working for were focused on the operational delivery of services. Most of what he was dealing with involved finding immediate solutions to issues and challenges as they cropped up rather than taking a broader look at overall policies and practices.

He said: “I wanted to be in an environment where I could take time to understand things and, hopefully, create more rounded pieces of analysis or research that could have a wider impact or could influence policymaking.

“I want to be able to take a data driven approach, to use the data that we are collecting to understand how hospitals are working, what happens in reality, and see if there are ways it can be done better.”

Even though he is just starting his foundation year he has ideas of what he wants to do during his three-year project and is reading papers to identify the research question he will tackle.

After that he is potentially interested in continuing to work in the academic centre or possibly going into industry.