Dr Gurdeep Mannu from the Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, wins Office for National Statistics (ONS) Research Excellence Award for a study that highlighted early risk factors for breast cancer patients, while Richard Blundell from the Institute for Fiscal Studies was selected for the Programme Award.

See the full list of winners.

Dr Gurdeep Mannu: early risk factors for breast cancer study

A study looking at more than 25 years of data on women receiving different breast cancer treatments has been recognised by the ONS in its Research Excellence Awards for its insight and its important implications for management of patients with this kind of early-stage breast cancer in the future.

Dr Gurdeep Mannu’s research showed that women who are diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ (an early-stage breast cancer) during breast screening go on to experience higher risks of developing invasive breast cancer and of death from breast cancer, compared with the general population.

The research looked at data on 35,000 women in England diagnosed as having ductal carcinoma in situ by the NHS Breast Screening Programme from 1988 to 2014. It combined ONS mortality data with Hospital Episode Statistics from NHS Digital to show that the rate of women later developing invasive breast cancer was more than double what was expected, while mortality rates were 70% higher than expected.

These findings will have important implications for management of patients with this kind of early-stage breast cancer in the future.

Dr Mannu’s project was chosen from a list of 20 applications, including research that was instrumental in shaping government COVID-19 decision-making and analysis.

The National Statistician Sir Ian Diamond said:

“These awards recognise and celebrate outstanding, innovative research carried out using ONS secure data or data managed by ONS on behalf of others. Dr Mannu’s research was selected as the worthy winner in a year that has seen an exceptional standard of entries.

“The potential impact of this work highlights the vital importance of sharing and linking data and it is fitting that he receives this award as we are marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the UK.”

Upon receiving the ONS Research Excellence Award Dr Mannu said:

“I am absolutely delighted that our work has received this award. The Non-Invasive Breast Cancer in England study has been a highly collaborative project from its outset, bringing together data from the National Breast Screening Service, the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service and the Office for National Statistics.

“This paper is the first to arise out of the project and we are currently working on several other aspects of the disease. Receiving this award has reinforced my enthusiasm for using the population-based data that Public Health England are able to collate in order to help those diagnosed with cancer.”

Professor Sir Richard Blundell: inequalities research

In recognition of research that extends beyond individual projects, Professor Sir Richard Blundell from the Economic Social and Research Council’s Centre for the Microeconomic Analysis of Public Policy at the Institute for Fiscal Studies was given the Programme Award. The research examines how inequalities have developed within and between different groups and assesses how government policies impact on those inequalities. This work has informed current government policy, including the move to automatic enrolment into workplace pensions.

Other awards

The People’s Choice Award was given to Oliver Hugh from the Perinatal Institute for an investigation into the effects of implementing the Growth Assessment Protocol on stillbirth rates in England after receiving the most votes from members of the public.

ONS researcher Heather Bovill was also commended for her work on the Office for National Statistics’ Coronavirus Infection Survey in partnership with the University of Oxford, University of Manchester, Public Health England and Wellcome Trust. The Infection Survey’s analysis tracks infection and transmission of COVID-19 among the population as a whole and results are shared weekly with Downing Street and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) to inform government decisions in response to the pandemic.

More information on the award winners and those who were commended for their work is available.

Notes to editors

The ONS Research Excellence Award recognises and celebrates outstanding, innovative research carried out using ONS secure data or data managed by ONS on behalf of others. The research must deliver a public benefit to the UK while protecting data confidentiality.

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