Microsoft launches new $40m AI for Health

Microsoft has launched a new $40 million, five year program to leverage the use of artificial intelligence for health.

Part of the AI for Good initiative, which recently announced its latest cohort, aims to leverage AI technology to empower researchers and organisations address many global health challenges.

Brad Smith, president, Microsoft “Artificial intelligence has the potential to solve some of humanities greatest challenges, like improving the health of communities around the world.”

“We know that putting this powerful technology into the hands of experts tackling this problem can accelerate new solutions and improve access for underserved populations. That’s why we created AI for Health.”

The company said “Artificial intelligence represents one of technology’s most important priorities, and healthcare is perhaps AI’s most urgent application. However, the talent and resources required to equip health researchers with tools to deploy AI and data science is unevenly distributed. Less than five percent of the world’s AI professionals today work in health and nonprofit organisations. It is crucial to provide these mission-driven researchers with the tools they need to accelerate and expand their work.”

The AI for Health programme will focus on three areas, the first to accelerate medical research to advance prevention, diagnoses, and treatment of diseases. Secondly, to increase our shared understanding of mortality and longevity to protect against global health crises and thirdly to reduce health inequity and improving access to care for underserved populations.

Organisations joining the programme include BRAC, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS), Novartis Foundation, PATH, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Dr. Sunil Gupta, founder and chief medical officer, Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems “Diabetes is the leading cause of adult-onset blindness in the U.S.; however, 95 percent of vision loss is preventable due to modern therapies such as the diabetic retinal exam (DRE).”

“We can make a huge impact on people’s lives through the early detection of sight-threatening disease and advanced technologies can accelerate these efforts, through the use of AI, we can scale our diagnostic software to reach underserved communities and help end preventable blindness.”

Dr. Nino Ramirez, Director of the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute “Recent collaborations with the Microsoft data science team have already showcased how AI can bring a deeper quality of research by helping us uncover important answers about breathing disorders and causes of infant mortality like sudden infant death syndrome.”

“We are excited by the opportunity to continue our work together, combining our shared talents with cutting edge computing tools that have the power to transform our field and ultimately save lives.”

The new program is part of Microsoft’s broader AI for Good, a $165M initiative.