The amount of data available in neurology, neuroscience, neurobiology and related disciplines is rising exponentially and our ability to analyse and utilise those data is becoming ever more sophisticated. This will be the topic of the overarching theme of the European Academy’s 2023 annual congress, ‘Neurology Beyond Big Data’, where concepts, recent advances, opportunities and challenges will be discussed.
Data available range from routinely collected clinical data and population health data, through genomics and other omics and to clinical diagnostics (i.e. MRI and neurophysiology). Linkage of diverse datasets and use of novel methods of analysis, including use of artificial intelligence, are giving us new insights into the how the nervous system actually works and the biological basis of neurological diseases. It is also informing the development of new diagnostic technologies, new treatments and how to and in whom to use current and new treatments (personalised treatment) as well as public health interventions.
These advances also pose a number of challenges, for example public concern about use of data and the proportionality of data protection legislation, which on the one hand protects individual’s privacy rights but might also impede advancements that might improve their health, whilst there are also other ethical concerns to consider, for example around genomics. There are also risks that the substantial health inequalities across Europe will be widened if access to the new technologies and other advancements are available mainly to wealthy, highlighting the need for intelligent and progressive policies. All this and more will be discussed at the EAN’s 2023 congress in Budapest.