India launches initiative to build medical records representing Indian population

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The Indian Council of Medical Research, India’s leading biomedical research body, is working on a national initiative to create high-quality medical datasets that reflect the diversity of India’s population.

It has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to collaborate in this effort, with ARTPARK (AI & Robotics Technology Park), an IISc-sponsored non-profit, acting as a partner for technology development and program management.

According to a press statement, a team driving this initiative will help standardize data collection from partner medical institutions and curate that data to make it available to a broader community of researchers and innovators in India.

WHY IT MATTERS

The IISc said in a statement that building high-quality and curated medical imaging datasets that reflect India’s diversity of people, environments and needs will accelerate research and innovation to realize AI’s promise of improving access to healthcare and the increase employee productivity.

Such data would also play a crucial role in the evaluation of AI-based tools and thus accelerate their use.

THE BIGGER TREND

Other population health initiatives in Asia Pacific are also attempting to use population-level data to gain deep insights into their respective health problems and needs to improve health outcomes.

For one, Singapore Precision Health Research is conducting a large-scale population study in partnership with genomics technology company Illumina to build a comprehensive precision medicine database to gain insights into Asia’s genomic diversity and Asian diseases. Another Singaporean institution, the National Cancer Center Singapore, is involved in efforts to build a local clinical genomics database to generate insights that lead to better outcomes for cancer patients.

ON THE RECORD

Welcoming this national initiative, Govindan Rangarajan, Professor and Director of the IISc, said: “Our aim is to bring together the best of technology, data science and medical research to improve healthcare. This partnership with ICMR will enable us to do just that, creating invaluable data sets to drive the next generation of innovation for India and the world.”

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