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Microsoft commits $40M to AI for Health initiative


Microsoft unveiled the details of its latest effort as part of its $165 million AI for Good program. The company plans to spend $40 million over the next five years to support research and public health efforts under its new AI for Health initiative.

Microsoft shared its plans on Wednesday, which include giving nonprofits and academic researchers access to the company’s AI tools, cloud computing resources, and collaboration with the company’s data scientists. Certain projects will also be able to receive cash grants.

“There are real health issues in which AI can play an important role, and it may be our best option to accelerate research or expand the reach of new solutions, especially in areas that may lack attention from the commercial health sector,” Microsoft’s Chief Data Analytics Officer John Kahan wrote in a blog post.

He referred to two of Microsoft’s recent collaborations as examples. The company has worked with the Seattle Children’s Research Institute to better understand and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), by analyzing publicly available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find correlations that showed a statistical increase in SIDS. Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems has also used Microsoft’s computer vision software to make a platform that can identify diabetic retinopathy before patients experience vision loss.

The company plans to focus its efforts in three areas: accelerating medical research, improving global health, and reducing inequality in health and access to care. On top of its current partnerships, Microsoft said it plans to further its work with global anti-poverty organization BRAC to reduce maternal mortality, healthcare technology nonprofit PATH to improve access to tuberculosis treatment, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to research pediatric cancer treatments.

AI for Health is one of five initiatives as part of Microsoft’s AI for Good program. The company is also working with nonprofits as part of its AI for Earth, AI for Accessibility, AI for Humanitarian Action and AI for Cultural Heritage efforts.

Photo credit: Getty Images, wigglestick







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