Emory University to launch Empathetic AI for Health Institute

Emory University is focused on new ways artificial intelligence can be harnessed in healthcare – not just to improve care delivery, but to expand access and equity for patients across populations.

With the launch this month of its Emory Empathetic AI for Health Institute, or AI.Health, as part of its AI.Humanity initiative, the university will study the many ways that data can be put to work transforming the prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure of “diseases on a global scale,” college officials say.

Researchers at the new institute, also called Emory AI.Health, will use supercomputers to suss out patterns in large datasets and deploy AI-enabled predictive analytics to help outcomes in diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

Billed as the first institute of its kind in Georgia, the institute will also focus on developing accessible, cost-effective and equitable AI tools by working with other experts from Emory and the surrounding community – the Atlanta VA Medical Center, the Georgia Institute of Technology and others.

The goal of Emory AI.Health aims is to harness data to boost quality of and the access to care for all populations, while using AI tools to mitigate bias, officials say, with a mission to “innovate, deploy and scale AI technologies for impacting patient health and wellness.”

Improving health equity will be at the forefront of Emory AI.Health’s efforts.

For example, precision medicine’s ability to personally tailor diagnoses and treatments has shown enormous promise. But a lack of diversity in clinical trials can exacerbate existing health disparities by creating an algorithmic bias toward majority populations. Ensuring transparency and ethics in its data models will be paramount at AI.Health, school officials say.

Emory AI.Health will be led by Anant Madabhushi, a Robert W. Woodruff professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory and Georgia Institute of Technology, an immunology researcher at the Winship Cancer Institute and scientist with the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

“There is a critical need to develop dedicated AI-based risk-prediction models for minority patients,” said Madabhushi in a statement. “The reduction in cost resulting from AI-informed precision medicine, as well as the elimination of the need for invasive biopsies, are even greater boons to underserved and under-resourced populations locally in Atlanta, nationally and globally.

“With the power of AI and precision medicine, we’re stepping into a future where healthcare is not just reactive, but proactive for everyone, irrespective of their background, to ensure everyone gets the best chance at a healthy life,” added Madabhushi – who joined Emory this past year, has authored more than 475 peer-reviewed publications and holds more than 200 patents issued or pending in the areas of AI, radiomics, computational pathology, medical image analysis and computer vision.

The institute will also embark on a university-wide hiring effort through AI.Humanity, which is recruiting up to 60 new faculty who focus on AI in disciplines including health, law, business, ethics and other fields.

University officials note that Atlanta’s network researchers, clinicians, computer scientists and ethicists – not just at Emory but at Georgia Tech’s and elsewhere, make the city well-positioned to serve as a major research hub for AI in healthcare.

A central goal is to promote health equity by reducing the cost of care and increasing both the quality of and access to care for all populations, with an initial focus on the Atlanta region’s underserved population.

“Emory AI.Health brings together a dream team of researchers and clinicians who are deploying AI innovations to improve care not only for individuals, but entire populations,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Emory University’s provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.

“By combining state-of-the-art approaches to precisely treat each person’s unique disease with a broad focus on enhanced efficacy, affordability and access, AI.Health will advance Emory’s mission of serving humanity both in Georgia and worldwide. This institute embodies our commitment to providing high quality healthcare, conducting research that finds new cures, and being at the leading edge of deploying powerful tools like artificial intelligence in the service of that mission.”

Mike Miliard is executive editor of Healthcare IT News
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.


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