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IBM Watson Health invests $50M in research collaborations, teams up with Broad Institute to predict risk of cardiovascular disease

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IBM Watson Health unveiled two bits of news last week.

One is that it will make a 10-year, $50 million investment in research collaborations with two organizations: Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

IBM’s alliances with the entities will focus on how to use AI to improve the utility of EHRs and claims data to address public health issues like patient safety, precision medicine and health equity. Additionally, the collaborations will examine physician and patient user experience and interactions with AI.

The other announcement is that IBM Watson Health and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard are expanding their partnership. They’ve launched a three-year project that will leverage AI, genomics and clinical data to help clinicians predict the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Through the initiative, the companies will build algorithms that can learn from certain data points and then indicate a possible predisposition to specific health conditions.

The ultimate goal is to produce models that analyze genetic risk factors, health records and biomarkers so clinicians can better predict the onset of conditions like heart attacks, sudden cardiac death and atrial fibrillation.

Back in 2016, IBM Watson Health and the Broad Institute revealed a five-year effort to enable researchers to use genomics and machine learning to understand how and why cancers become resistant to therapies.

These two announcements come after Deborah DiSanzo left her role as IBM Watson Health general manager last year. And last summer, IBM verified a round of layoffs impacted its Watson Health unit.

The company was in hot water before that.

A STAT investigation from 2017 detailed how the Watson supercomputer isn’t living up to the expectations IBM set up for it. Plus, in a 2017 interview with MedCity, a former IBM employee who worked in the company’s life sciences group explained that even though marketing budgets were large, the talk never materialized into a tangible off-the-shelf product.

Photo: nambitomo, Getty Images

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