AHA and DCRI partner to accelerate precision medicine through machine learning

March 9, 2018 – The partnership will develop research tools for the AHA Precision Medicine Platform.

Michael Pencina

A new strategic alliance will target the prediction, prevention and treatment of cardiovascular diseases using artificial intelligence computing and big data, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the DCRI announced today.

The AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular MedicineTM together with the DCRI’s data science team, under the direction of Michael Pencina, PhD, (pictured left) and Lawrence Carin, PhD (pictured right), will develop and test machine learning methods on the AHA Precision Medicine Platform, which is powered by Amazon Web Services.

“Together, we will develop new methods and technology for analyzing data, and create abundant opportunities for trainees to excel,” said Jennifer Hall, PhD, chief of the AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine. “We’re pleased to work with the DCRI’s team of data science experts to develop and test emerging strategies to power machine learning.”

Machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence, refers to methods that use complex mathematical algorithms that are “trained” and optimized on large amounts of data. These methods can be especially useful for problems with large amounts of data with many variables. Machine learning can enhance how massive volumes of datasets are labeled and annotated to improve researchers’ understanding of deep learning methods.

The strategic alliance will investigate how big data is managed, accessed, harmonized, searched and deposited, specific to secondary analyses of clinical databases. In addition, DCRI and AHA will leverage their grants for big data harmonization and methods to create novel machine learning tools and aggregated data repositories.

“There is great potential in machine learning and other artificial intelligence methods to discover new insights, but we have to be sensible and think clearly about how we use it,” said Pencina, the DCRI’s director of biostatistics and a professor of biostatistics and bioinformatics at the Duke School of Medicine. “I think team science is the key that unlocks that potential.”

The DCRI’s more than 1,300 staff members include 76 clinicians from the Duke School of Medicine and more than 100 biostatisticians and data scientists. Both sets of experts, in conjunction with the powerful technology established by the AHA’s Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine, offer an ideal alliance for unlocking the potential of artificial intelligence to address the challenges of preventing and treating cardiovascular disease.

For more information on the AHA Precision Medicine Platform, visit http://precision.heart.org.