Transforming health data access, standardisation and analysis in 2023: Spotlight on Dr. Pablo Prieto

3 minute read
Hannah Gaimster, PhD

Hannah Gaimster, PhD

17 July 2023


Dr. Pablo Prieto is the co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Lifebit. Pablo brings almost 20 years of experience in developing high-performance, cloud-native solutions for analysing biomedical and real-world data. His expertise spans technology domains, including federated technology, AI, workflow languages, cloud/hybrid/HPC architecture and high-performance databases.

Pablo obtained his PhD from Pompeu Fabra University, where he contributed to high-impact research. Here, he co-invented Nextflow, alongside Lifebit’s CEO, Dr. Maria Dunford. Nextflow is a bioinformatics workflow management system that has become the industry standard for coding high-performance bioinformatics pipelines. Pablo is also a valued contributor to high-profile international consortia, including the ENCODE project.



In 2017, Pablo co-founded Lifebit, a global bioinformatics software company now employing over 130 bioinformaticians, engineers, data scientists and business staff. Under Pablo and Maria’s leadership, Lifebit delivers enterprise-level software platforms to make sensitive health and biomedical data securely accessible and standardised for research analysis. This patented, federated platform technology is used by high-profile customers across the world, including Genomics England, the Danish National Genome Center, the University of Cambridge, Boehringer Ingelheim and Flatiron Health

As CTO at Lifebit, Pablo oversees all technical aspects of products and is responsible for the operational delivery of the platform and support services. He is still an active member of the research community at large, contributing to multiple initiatives aimed at advancing access and interoperability of health and multi-omics data, including the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) and Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI).


Pablo’s mission is to ensure that life sciences researchers have secure, accessible and collaborative platforms that improve access, standardisation and linkage of large volumes of diverse healthcare data.


Currently, clinical data required for life sciences research is scattered throughout different health centres, hospitals, clinics and healthcare providers across the world. Also, the data may not be standardised to interoperable formats, thus leading to poor interfacing between different datasets


Data Standardisation stats (1)

Overseen by Pablo, Lifebit’s in-house data scientists apply key data standards such as the common data model (CDM) of the Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership (OMOP) to clients’ data. This ensures data is made uniform across different health institutions and can be combined for research purposes.



Once data is fully standardised and interoperable it can be combined for analysis. However, healthcare data is often highly sensitive so researchers cannot move or copy these often large datasets. Federated data analysis solutions enable researchers to securely access and use distributed data from multiple sources by bringing the analysis and computation to where the data resides. This supports data research at scale while keeping the data secure and protecting patient privacy.



Federated data analysis is gaining popularity to power healthcare initiatives, such as the UK National Health Service (NHS) adopting federated learning to manage diverse clinical data, and Canadian Distributed Infrastructure for Genomics (CanDIG) employing federation to draw insights from both genomic and clinical datasets.

In collaboration with the University of Cambridge, Eastern Academic Health Science Network (AHSN) and Genomics England, Pablo co-led a project to demonstrate how trusted research environments (TREs) can be virtually linked through multi-party federation to facilitate analysis across separate databases as if they were one, without moving the data.

This project delivered the UK’s first demonstration of genomic data federation by bridging the separate health data TREs of the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre and Genomics England. Our pioneering work in federating trusted research environments is changing the nature by which siloed, sensitive health data can be accessed and is poised to scale collaboration to limitless capabilities.

Pablo’s experience across academia and healthcare technology, coupled with his passion for the life sciences, promises to cement Lifebit as the market leader for precision medicine software.

“For me, it’s about being able to help organisations operate successfully in a space I deeply care about,” said Pablo.


“For the first time ever, we have the data but face a different problem of siloed and non-interoperable datasets. So, providing secure data access, standardisation, linkage and analysis for researchers is the next wave of innovation. And that’s the special thing about Lifebit - the technology is ready to go and help solve these key issues in the healthcare sector.”



Author: Hannah Gaimster, PhD

Contributors: Amanda White



About Lifebit

At Lifebit, we develop secure federated data analysis solutions for clients including Genomics England, NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, Danish National Genome Centre and Boehringer Ingelheim to help researchers turn data into discoveries.


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