The National Institutes Of Health (NIH) is harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data to foster health equity and research diversity. This innovative initiative is fundamentally transforming the role of AI in Public Health and is advancing a new era in healthcare delivery and research practices.
NIH and The Crucial Role of AI in Public Health
On a recent GovFuture podcast, Dr. Susan Gregurick, Associate Director for Data Science and Director of the Office of Data Science Strategy at the NIH, shared some fascinating insights. She disclosed how the NIH is employing advanced analytics to bolster data-driven decision-making and highlighted the unique challenges the NIH faces related to data privacy and security.
“AI and advanced analytics really does speed the discovery of science and for us, bringing treatment and cures to keep people healthy,” Dr. Gregurick shared, emphasizing the critical role of AI in public health.
AIM-AHEAD: NIH Leading the Way for Health Equity and Researcher Diversity
One of the major milestones in this endeavor is the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program. AIM-AHEAD collaborates with researchers across the country to enhance the representation of researchers and communities in the development of AI models.
Dr. Gregurick said, “AIM-AHEAD is focused on recruiting new students and new scholars, funding new cutting-edge programs and priorities and really making an impact in AI models and the AI community.”
Through the use of AI, the NIH has enhanced the analytic speed of diagnostics and treatment capabilities. Dr. Gregurick recounted, “With the advent of AI, we can now very quickly sequence the entire genome of the infant compared against a number of variants for over 13,000 genetic disorders. And in five minutes, actually pinpoint what that disorder might be and then increase the capacity to develop the therapeutics that that infant might need.”
However, the increased use of private medical data brings about concerns of data security, privacy, and ethics. Dr. Gregurick revealed how the NIH handles these challenges. “We’ve standardized the way that researchers can gain access to controlled access data repositories. This is called Research Health Services, or RHS. RHS provides a single sign-on capability.”
The work by the NIH embodies the profound potential of AI in public health. From speeding up diagnostics to enhancing research diversity, the positive impacts are significant. The potential of AI in transforming healthcare is limitless, and this is just the beginning.
We would love to hear your thoughts on this transformative initiative. How do you perceive the role of AI in public health? How can we further ensure data privacy while maximizing the benefits of AI? Feel free to comment below.