Healthcare’s reliance on large amounts of data makes it a perfect fit for artificial intelligence across multiple disciplines, from diagnosis and pathology to drug discovery and epidemiology. Five new AI research centres in Coventry, Glasgow, Leeds, London and Oxford were announced by the government in November last year, and are due to open in 2019. They have a £50m investment and will focus on the rapidly advancing area of image analysis. The main areas of focus for the new centres will be radiology and histopathology, with an aim to training AIs across multiple diseases so that they can suggest potential diagnoses from an X-ray, for example.
“AI will transform medical diagnostics. “
Sir Mark Walport, chief executive of UK Research and Innovation, said: “You could look at almost any area of healthcare and see that advanced data science – if I could put it that way – has an enormous amount to offer. This technology has huge potential right across the world of healthcare.” Referencing the new research centres, Mr Walport said: “This is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and it’s about making sure we create the best opportunities, both in terms of improving healthcare and also ensuring that we grow a really important industry, and through our other programmes we’re funding a great deal of research more broadly. But this (imaging) was a deliberately focused call in an area where there’s obvious potential for transformation. When you ask people who are ill whether they want their data used for their benefit, there’s not much doubt about the response. But equally, there is a responsibility to hold their data in a fashion that is confidential, that on the one hand allows the benefits to be delivered, but on the other hand protects against any potential risks.”