Google AI cash to help Sydney Uni cut heart attack risk

$1 million prize to help address global killer

Credit: Sydney University

The University of Sydney will use a $1 million prize from Google’s philanthropic arm to aid the development of an AI-based digital health program to cut the risk of heart attack.

The university’s Westmead Applied Research Centre (WARC) was today announced as the winner of the inaugural AI Impact Challenge prize.

The program will initially focus on Western Sydney health services. Sydney Uni said it will “deliver tailored advice and nudges using machine learning to participants who have presented at hospital with chest pain, harnessing their digital footprint to reduce the risk of a heart attack.”

It will draw clinical data as well as data from mobile apps and wearable devices.

The WARC’s Professor Clara Chow this morning accepted the award from Google’s Australian managing director, Melanie Silva, and federal industry, science and technology minister Karen Andrews.

The $5.5 million WARC was launched last year as a collaboration between the university and Western Sydney Local Health District.      

“A central program of WARC is to provide personalised high quality support via mobile phone text messages to people with chronic diseases,” Chow said at the time. “We know from our global research that this support makes a real difference to people’s health following treatment for heart disease.

“This idea is backed by complex and sophisticated clinical algorithms to generate targeted messages and programs. Fusing digital technology and medical science in this way means we can creates healthcare solutions that are affordable, scalable and capable of continuous evolution.”

“Modifiable risk factors account for over 90 percent of the risk of heart attack worldwide,” Chow said today.

“Chest pain is the second most common reason people present to emergency department in Australia and may be an early warning sign – early identification and monitoring could prevent patients returning to hospital suffering a heart attack but currently this is poorly done.

“AI-driven digital health interventions have the potential to be the game changer – as the technology would enable patients to be monitored while they go about their daily lives.”

Google in October 2018 announced the launch of the AI Impact Challenge as part of its AI for Social Good initiative.

“We’ll help selected organizations bring their proposals to life with coaching from Google’s AI experts, grant funding from a $25 million pool, and credits and consulting from Google Cloud,” a blog entry announcing the challenge said.

“Grantees will also join a specialized Launchpad Accelerator program, and we’ll tailor additional support to each project’s needs in collaboration with data science nonprofit DataKind.”

“We’re really excited about having the mentorship from a ‘Googler’, which will really help us in translating this research into a deliverable program that has the greatest reach,” Chow said. 

In May Australian addiction treatment and research centre Turning Point was revealed to be one of 20 organisations to receive funding as part of Google’s AI for Social Good program.

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