Emory University Launching ‘Empathetic AI for Health Institute’

Nov. 8, 2023
A core pillar of the institute is promoting health equity, with an initial focus on the Atlanta region’s underserved population

Emory University in Atlanta is launching an Emory Empathetic AI for Health Institute to discern patterns in vast amounts of data and make predictions that improve patient health outcomes in diseases such as lung, prostate and breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and more. 

The university said that Emory AI.Health will foster the development of accessible, cost-effective and equitable AI tools by developing an ecosystem of multidisciplinary experts from Emory, the Atlanta VA Medical Center, the Georgia Institute of Technology and others, and seeking public-private partnerships to propel new research forward. It will then serve as an engine to deploy those tools to the patient’s bedside, initially within Emory Healthcare and ultimately across the globe.

A core pillar of the institute is promoting health equity by reducing the cost of care and increasing both the quality of and access to care for all populations, with an initial focus on the Atlanta region’s underserved population.

Emory AI.Health will be led by Anant Madabhushi, Ph.D., a Robert W. Woodruff professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Emory and Georgia Institute of Technology, a member of the Cancer Immunology research program at Winship Cancer Institute and a research career scientist with the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
Madabhushi has authored more than 475 peer-reviewed publications and holds more than 200 patents issued or pending in the areas of AI, radiomics, computational pathology, medical image analysis and computer vision.

“It’s an honor and a thrill to be leading the Emory Empathetic AI for Health Institute,” says Madabhushi, in a statement. He joined Emory in 2022 as one of the first faculty members recruited through the AI.Humanity initiative. “With the power of AI and precision medicine, we’re stepping into a future where health care is not just reactive, but proactive for everyone, irrespective of their background, to ensure everyone gets the best chance at a healthy life.”

Emory AI.Health will also draw on the expertise of Emory researchers such as Bari Clifford and Judy Gichoya, who are advancing AI across diverse patient groups. In addition, the institute will benefit from a university-wide hiring effort  through AI.Humanity, which is recruiting up to 60 new faculty who focus on AI in disciplines including health, law, business, ethics and other fields.

Improving health equity

Given precision medicine’s ability to personally tailor diagnoses and treatments, it would seem that the discipline would inherently promote health equity; but a lack of diversity in clinical trials can exacerbate existing health disparities by creating an algorithmic bias toward majority populations. Thus, improving health equity will be at the forefront of Emory AI.Health.

“There is a critical need to develop dedicated AI-based risk-prediction models for minority patients,” said Madabhushi. “The reduction in cost resulting from AI-informed precision medicine, as well as the elimination of the need for invasive biopsies, are even greater boons to underserved and under-resourced populations locally in Atlanta, nationally and globally.”