AI platform for precision medicine goes ahead
September 23, 2020
MONTREAL – A national R&D platform, powered by leading-edge AI, will now move forward with the support of up to $49 million from the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund, along with $159 million in cash and additional in-kind contributions from 97 consortium partners.
The Digital Health and Discovery Platform (DHDP) will unite the partners in the quest for precision-medicine solutions in the area of cancer, as well as other difficult diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Leading the charge are The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI), a pan-Canadian, world-class collaborative cancer research institute, and Imagia, a leading healthcare artificial intelligence (AI) company that unites healthcare expertise and advanced AI technology.
“Signing this agreement with the Government of Canada is an important step towards our goal of working together, sharing data, resources and knowledge to achieve our – and Terry Fox’s goal – of ending cancer through research,” said Dr. Victor Ling (pictured), TFRI president and scientific director.
“As the lead recipient of this agreement, we look forward to working with platform members, and especially our Marathon of Hope Cancer Centre network partners, to create a robust, secure digital data platform that enables us to collectively find better ways to detect, diagnose and treat cancer patients and to make these advances accessible throughout Canada,” said Stephen Herst, TFRI’s chief operating officer.
The DHDP is the first of its kind in Canada and is a scalable, multi-use platform to digitally enable national and international research collaborations. The objective is to advance next-generation data governance principles and technology to transform health research as a collaborative, economy-building ecosystem, linking healthcare data with AI and other technologies to improve patient outcomes.
A key aspect of the DHDP will be its function as a distributed learning ecosystem where clinical, genomic, biological and other data will stay where it is collected and be made easier to access while also being fully compliant with privacy laws and institutional policies.
The DHDP will operate under a federated system, enabling disruptive digital innovation that provides platform-supported researchers access to analyze data from cancer centres and other research institutions. The platform will provide real-world evidence and the ability to conduct world-class clinical trials as well as help to attract and train top talent in machine learning and other fields such as data scientists, clinical trialists, biostatisticians, health and science researchers.
“Two years ago, TFRI and Imagia envisioned a platform that would combine Canadian healthcare, industry and AI expertise to develop personalized healthcare. With a patient-centric approach, Imagia, main partner of the DHDP, activates the infrastructure for accelerated scientific discoveries, better diagnostics and more effective treatments to improve the health of patients with high-burden diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. DHDP will be the first of its kind solution, which takes into account not just technical aspects, but a full scope of data governance and policy issues,” said Alexandre Le Bouthillier, Imagia co-founder.
“Since before the COVID-19 pandemic, our government has been hard working with partners on this ground-breaking initiative to advance Canadian healthcare,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “The DHDP is a cutting-edge, national digital health data initiative that will bring together the best of Canadian innovation with our world-leading healthcare system. Today’s agreement will drive exciting new medical breakthroughs, lead to better patient care, attract investment, and create good jobs for Canadians.”
About The Terry Fox Research Institute
The Terry Fox Research Institute (TFRI), established in 2007, invests in world-class, collaborative cancer research teams and partnerships. Together with its research and funding partners, TFRI is working to inspire the transformation of cancer research in this country by bringing together leading cancer research and treatment organizations in Canada and empowering them under the framework of the Marathon of Hope Cancer Centres Network. For more information, visit www.tfri.ca.
Imagia, an AI healthcare company, develops digital medical innovations that improve the health of cancer patients and those afflicted with other high-burden diseases. Through its collaborative ecosystem, Imagia EVIDENS enables hospitals, medical device manufacturers, pharmaceutical companies, and diagnostic companies around the world to access and utilize healthcare data while preserving data privacy. The company’s head office is located in Montreal, Canada. For more information, visit imagia.com.