National Core Studies (NCS) Gateway dashboard

The COVID-19 National Core Studies (NCS) were established in October 2020 to address key areas where experts and funders had identified a need for the UK to increase research scale to respond to near term strategic, policy and operational needs, and ultimately maintain resilience against Covid-19.

There are six NCSs:

  1. Epidemiology and Surveillance led by Professor Ian Diamond (ONS)
  2. Clinical Trials Infrastructure led by Professor Patrick Chinnery (MRC) and Divya Chadha Manek (Vaccines Task Force/NIHR)
  3. Transmission and Environment led by Professor Andrew Curran (HSE)
  4. Immunity led by Professor Paul Moss (University of Birmingham)
  5. Longitudinal Health & Wellbeing led by Professor Nishi Chaturvedi (UCL) and Professor Jonathan Sterne (University of Bristol)
  6. Data and Connectivity led by Professor Andrew Morris (HDR UK in partnership with ONS)

Further background to the National Core Studies:


Role of the Gateway

One of the Data & Connectivity study aims is to use the UK Health Data Research Innovation Gateway to ensure the priority datasets for COVID-19 research are findable, accessible, inter-operable and reusable (FAIR) as a single “shop window”.

This dashboard is intended to help report progress towards this aim.


National Core Studies datasets

These are datasets prioritised by NCS researchers as critical to COVID-19 research. The Data and Connectivity NCS is working to make these datasets accessible to the research community and discoverable through the Innovation Gateway.



This is a count of all datasets that have been tagged as NCS. The metadata for these datasets can be viewed on the Gateway here.


Metadata quality grade

Data & Connectivity delivery partners have committed to providing the best available information about the dataset to help researchers understand the suitability of the dataset(s) to support their project. This is referred to as the metadata quality. It is not a measure of the quality of the actual datasets. Please click here for more information about how the score is calculated and converted into a grade (where Not Rated is lowest and Platinum is highest). Our aim is for all NCS datasets to have platinum level metadata.

The chart below shows the metadata quality of all datasets that have been tagged as NCS.




Trusted Research Environments

Trusted (or Trustworthy) Research Environments (TREs) protect - by design - the privacy of individuals whose health data they hold, while facilitating large scale data analysis using High Performance Computing that increases understanding of disease and improvements in health and care.

Each Data & Connectivity delivery partner provides trusted research environments as the primary method for providing access to data for researchers. These environments host both NCS priority datasets and other data assets, many of which are listed with their metadata on the gateway. The five National TREs are listed below and further information about each of them can be found using the link to their respective collection on the Gateway.

  1. ONS Secure Research Service
  2. NHS Digital TRE
  3. Scottish National Safe Haven
  4. SeRP / SAIL Databank
  5. NI Honest Broker Service TRE

The charts below show the number of datasets that are part of one or more National TRE collections. They also illustrate the metadata quality of the datasets within each of the National TRE collections as well as the different resources that each National TRE collection holds.




National Core Studies Data Access Requests via Gateway

The Gateway provides a harmonised Data Access Request (DAR) form across all Data & Connectivity delivery partners. The aim is to help streamline the process of requesting access to data, especially across multiple data custodians. This functionality is being developed based on feedback from users and our delivery partners. Currently the Gateway allows researchers to use a single DAR to request access to multiple datasets from a single TRE.

The aim is to increase the number of data access requests and datasets requested, whilst reducing the overall time from application to gaining access for approved requests.

The charts below show the number of Data Access Requests that have been submitted by NCS tagged projects to date and the total number of datasets that have been included in those requests. A breakdown by data custodian is also provided.

Reporting of time from application to decision will be added as soon as sufficient data becomes available.



Coming soon – time from application to decision



National Core Studies collections

Each of the National Core Studies has been set up as collections on the Gateway. The collections ares groups of research projects, datasets, tools, people and publications related to a National Core Study research area.

The charts below show the number and mix of resources listed on the gateway and included in each collection. Some resources, especially tools and datasets, may be included in more than one collection and so we have also included a count of unique items across all NCS collections:



NB. Not all National Core Studies are making full use of this gateway service and so these collections may not represent the extent of their resources and outputs.