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Digital & Innovation

Microsoft launches $40m AI for health initiative

Health Industry Hub | February 10, 2020 |

Microsoft announced AI for Health, a five-year, $40 million program that aims to help healthcare organisations leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to boost the health of patients and populations worldwide.

Microsoft says AI for Health – which is part of its $165 million AI for Good initiative – will help researchers, non-for-profits and healthcare organisations around the world deploy with leading edge technologies in the service of three key areas:

  • Accelerating medical research to help improve prevention, diagnoses and treatment
  • Improving worldwide understanding of mortality and longevity to help protect against global health crises
  • Reducing health inequity and improving access to care for underserved populations

“AI for Health is a philanthropic initiative that complements our broader work in Microsoft Healthcare,” said John Kahan, chief data analytics officer at Microsoft, in a blog post. “Through AI for Health, we will support specific nonprofits and academic collaboration with Microsoft’s leading data scientists, access to best-in-class AI tools and cloud computing, and select cash grants.”

He said the program – which is “underpinned with a strong foundation of privacy, security and ethics” – will focus on tackling societal health issues, helping researchers unlock new medical and scale up new technology solutions.

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The Larger Trend

AI for Health will work by harnessing collaborations that pair Microsoft’s AI expertise with leading healthcare innovators around the world.

Among its goals: improving causes and diagnosis of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS in collaboration with Seattle Children’s Research Institute; working toward eliminating leprosy, by focusing on interventions that can interrupt transmission, with Novartis Foundation; deploying AI tools for use in primary care end-to-end diabetic retinopathy diagnostic software, developed in partnership with Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems; exploring new approaches to cross-organisational data access that can lead to breakthroughs in research, with Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the Cascadia Data Discovery Initiative.

Kahan notes that Microsoft is also “deepening our explorative partnerships” with BRAC, PATH and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to help drive new advancements in prevention of maternal mortality, tuberculosis treatment and paediatric cancer.

“I am honoured to lead AI for Health as part of my mission at Microsoft to fuse AI and data to address the world’s greatest challenges,” said Kahan in his blog post. “As a tech company, it is our responsibility to ensure that organisations working on the most pressing societal issues have access to our latest AI technology and the expertise of our technical talent.

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