The N8 supercomputer and e-health research

Date/Time: Tuesday 21 May 2013 6.30pm (refreshments from 5.45pm)
Reception drinks sponsored by X-Lab
Pizza supplied by BCS West Yorkshire Branch.

Room 1.01 to 1.04, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds, Charles Thackrah Building, 101 Clarendon Road, Leeds LS2 9LJ
The Yorkshire Centre for Health Informatics has kindly provided the facilities for the evening. For a campus map see

Speakers: Rhys Davies, CIO of the University of Leeds and Professor Jeremy Wyatt, Leadership Chair in e-Health Research, University of Leeds.


The N8 supercomputer is big computing at its biggest – based at the University of Leeds and launched on 7 March 2013 it is one of the world’s 250 most powerful computers. The supercomputer is capable of a peak performance of 110 trillion operations per second – the approximate equivalent of the combined processing power of 500,000 iPads (Note that the iPad is not yet recognised by the BCS as a standard unit of measure for compute power). The £3.25 million facility is based on the existing N8 Research Partnership involving the North’s leading research-intensive universities and will also offer consulting and e-infrastructure training to lower the barriers for companies wanting access to its processing power.

Rhys Davies will describe the N8 supercomputer and its potential for transformative research as well as its value to the North of England as a resource for industry and the public sector. The University of Leeds has had a leading role in developing grid and cloud computing for over a decade and has pioneered the concept of a Shared Virtual Datacentre. Rhys is no stranger to big compute, as IT Director of Morrisons Supermarkets for 9 years he lead the IT transformation that has positioned Morrisons as one of the UK’s largest, most innovative and dynamic retailers. At the University of Leeds, Rhys is transforming IT provision to develop regional and national services and the launch of the N8 supercomputer is a key element of that strategy.

One of the greatest opportunities for using computing power to transform the basis of research lies in linkage of e-health records to medical, bioinformatic, genomic, social and public data. Within the NHS, the government are signalling a move to much more openness of data and have established new roles for the Leeds-based Health and Social Care Information Centre and support for revised Caldicott guidelines. E-health data is inherently sensitive, precious and personal so the governance and trust needed to use it to advance medical knowledge needs very careful thought.

Professor Jeremy Wyatt is one of the leading figures in e-health research in the UK and is the third most cited researcher in his field worldwide. He has recently taken a Leadership Chair at the University of Leeds with a mission to drive transformation in e-health records research. His previous roles include Director of the new Institute for Digital Health Care at Warwick University and Director of the Health Informatics Centre and eHealth Research Group at Dundee.

Jeremy will outline the challenges and opportunities for big data e-health research and the need for large scale trusted computing infrastructure in secure safe havens. The opportunity to use supercomputers such as the one at Leeds for transformative medical and health research is exciting and imminent. Jeremy and Rhys will together describe how we manage that opportunity while maintaining public trust and public support.

The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion and there will be opportunities to network over drinks before the session and in the nearby Faversham pub afterwards.