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Global Burden of Disease - Big Data in Global Health

Peter Speyer (IHME)
Data Liquidity Salon F
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Published in December 2010, the Global Burden of Disease 2010 is the most comprehensive assessment on human health ever conducted. Coordinated by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), 488 co-authors from over 50 countries compiling all available evidence on 291 causes of disease and injury, as well as 67 risk factors globally. The results are now available by country, age and gender. GBD uses three key metrics. Years of life lost (YLL) sum up years of life that are lost due to pre-mature mortality. Years life with disability (YLD) provide an estimate how many years of live are lost to sickness; health loss is estimated based on severity and duration of diseases. Adding YLLs and YLDs provides disability-adjusted life years (DALY), which provide a measure for overall health loss due to diseases, injuries and risk factors.

The analytic approach of GBD uses all available data on health outcomes, from surveys, censuses to vital registration, disease registries and hospital records. It starts with estimating the number of deaths for each country-age-gender group then applying causes of death later, making sure that every death is only counted once. It provides uncertainty bounds for every estimate, thereby providing an assessment on how reliable the input data are. And the metrics are fully comparable across ages, countries and time, enabling comprehensive evaluation of levels, trends and patterns in the data.

To make best use of the available data, IHME has created a number of data visualizations that allow the exploration of the data via maps, treemaps, line and bar charts, and many more. The visualizatoins provide access to over roughly 1 billion results and have useful functionality from casual browsing of the data to deep-dives into the full detail of the study.

Photo of Peter Speyer

Peter Speyer


Peter Speyer, MBE, MBA, is Director of Data Development at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). He oversees the areas of data seeking, data management, data sharing, and data visualization. Supporting studies spanning all areas of global and public health on a worldwide scale, Peter’s team stays busy obtaining and managing census, survey, vital registration, health record, administrative, and other health-related data from around the world to provide researchers at IHME with the necessary input for their analyses. He managed the development and implementation of the Global Health Data Exchange (GHDx), IHME’s public catalog and repository of health-related data, as well as the development of innovative GIS and visualization tools and platforms.
Prior to joining IHME, Peter spent most of his career in strategy and product management positions in the media industry, working most recently for image licensing company Corbis. Peter worked in a number of leadership positions at Corbis, including Director of Market Strategy, where he invigorated the company’s customer focus and introduced customer-centric products and marketing activities. Peter was also Director of Product Management, established new product lines, and negotiated the necessary contracts for content sourcing and distribution.

Before moving to the US, Peter worked as a Senior Consultant in Corporate Strategy at Thomas Cook and at Bertelsmann in Germany, implementing strategic and business planning across corporate and business units. As Director of Content Asset Management for RTL Television, Bertelsmann’s TV unit in Germany, Peter built up a new department and oversaw the optimization and sales of international content licenses.

Peter holds an MBA from Temple University in Philadelphia and a Master of Business and Engineering (MBE) from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany.

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