AIMES Provide TRE for Cancer Research UK

AIMES asked Cancer Research UK, a long-standing client of ours, if they could provide a case study to showcase our work in facilitating their cancer intelligence ambitions. The following is what they had to say:

We decided to partner with AIMES because their bid offered the right balance between price and technical specifications.


Cancer Research UK is the world’s largest independent charity focused on researching cancer. The Cancer Intelligence team within Cancer Research UK seeks to make data meaningful, so that the Charity can continue to influence policy, highlight inequalities, and ensure that public messages have a sound statistical basis.

We decided that we should upgrade and improve our secure data infrastructure so that we could better work with confidential health data. We found AIMES whilst researching potential partners for this project.

What was the Challenge?

CRUK’s Cancer Intelligence team is the hub of our statistical analysis, as such we regularly work with confidential patient-level health data that we access via Public Health England and the Office for Data Release in England and equivalents across the UK. We recognise that every data point reflects a real-world moment in a cancer patient’s journey. As such it’s critical for us to be able to effectively protect and manage these data. To do so, and to adhere to our Data Security and Protection Toolkit accreditation, we had built a secure remote desktop system where data could be stored and analysed without unauthorised people being able to access it. Whilst the environment was secure, it was inefficient to use due to a lack of computational power.

We decided that it would be better to have a specialist organisation build and maintain the infrastructure we needed. We decided to partner with AIMES because their bid offered the right balance between price and technical specifications. We were also impressed with their commitment to partnership approach the project, which has continued post-deployment.

What was the Solution?

We developed an AIMES Trustworthy Research Environment to be a secure area for us to store and analyse confidential data. This solution met our goals for the project; the environment needed to be secure, computationally powerful, and stable. In addition, we were pleased that there was an option to whitelist websites to enable researchers to access software expansions, and to easily expand the size and computational power if we needed to.

The Results

It is safe to say that the deployment of the environment it is a significant improvement on our pre-existing infrastructure. It has been far more stable and our analysts like the improved performance; working in R we have found a 30% decrease in the time to compute large datasets and installing R packages is around 10x faster. We are currently working with AIMES to expand the provision to support more research.

Visit our Trustworthy Research Environment page to learn more about how it could aid your organisation, or book an appointment with us below.

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