Health Foundation announces funding to support research into AI and ethnic inequalities

The Health Foundation has launched a new funding call to support research into artificial intelligence and racial and ethnic inequalities.

Supported by the NHSX AI Lab and the National Institute for Health Research, £1.55 million will be made available across two categories.

The first category aims to understand and enable the opportunities to use AI to address inequalities, and the second category focuses on optimising datasets, and improving AI development, testing and deployment.

It aims to focus on the issues facing minority ethnic communities and understand if AI can be used to mitigate problems. With the second category to fund research to contribute to improving the quality, availability and appropriate use of datasets to account for ethnic diversity in the development of AI models.

In an interview article on the Health Foundation website, Brhmie Balaram, Head of AI Research and Ethics at NHSX and Adam Steventon, Director of Data Analytics at the Health Foundation discussed the programme and its aims.

Adam Steventon, said: “The first category is about working with communities to understand what technology they’d like to see and what might help them to achieve better health outcomes.”

Brhmie Balaram, said: “The second category looks at aspects like how we design AI and how we can improve the datasets underpinning the technology and their usage.

“This might include interdisciplinary research to understand what data to use when developing AI or computational techniques that, for example, might help identify possible sources of racial bias in AI.

“When it comes to deployment, we want to encourage the development of resources that could inform best practice, guidance, and evaluation frameworks for AI with racial equity in mind.”

Adam, added:”Research in this area is often about addressing the risks that technology poses to minority ethnic populations. When we were developing this call, we both thought there was the potential for AI to be used for good and to reduce health inequalities.

“As well as addressing the negatives, it’s important to look at where AI could make a real difference to people’s lives. We want to ensure that everyone benefits. We’re hoping that this call will bring in some good ideas from researchers and minority ethnic communities.

“We’re looking for examples of where AI can make a really positive difference to improving people’s health care. That might include making changes to things like detection and screening, improving quality of care, or understanding some of the root causes for poor outcomes.”

The deadline for applications is 21 April 2021. To find out more please click here.