Application of Healthcare 'Big Data' in CNS Drug Research: The Example of the Neurological and mental health Global Epidemiology Network (NeuroGEN)

CNS Drugs. 2020 Sep;34(9):897-913. doi: 10.1007/s40263-020-00742-4.


Neurological and psychiatric (mental health) disorders have a large impact on health burden globally. Cognitive disorders (including dementia) and stroke are leading causes of disability. Mental health disorders, including depression, contribute up to one-third of total years lived with disability. The Neurological and mental health Global Epidemiology Network (NeuroGEN) is an international multi-database network that harnesses administrative and electronic medical records from Australia, Asia, Europe and North America. Using these databases NeuroGEN will investigate medication use and health outcomes in neurological and mental health disorders. A key objective of NeuroGEN is to facilitate high-quality observational studies to address evidence-practice gaps where randomized controlled trials do not provide sufficient information on medication benefits and risks that is specific to vulnerable population groups. International multi-database research facilitates comparisons across geographical areas and jurisdictions, increases statistical power to investigate small subpopulations or rare outcomes, permits early post-approval assessment of safety and effectiveness, and increases generalisability of results. Through bringing together international researchers in pharmacoepidemiology, NeuroGEN has the potential to be paradigm-changing for observational research to inform evidence-based prescribing. The first focus of NeuroGEN will be to address evidence-gaps in the treatment of chronic comorbidities in people with dementia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Big Data*
  • Central Nervous System Agents / pharmacology*
  • Databases, Factual
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration
  • Drug Development / methods
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Nervous System Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Pharmacoepidemiology


  • Central Nervous System Agents