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

It has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) to collaborate on this effort, with ARTPARK (AI & Robotics Technology Park), a not-for-profit organisation promoted by IISc, serving as their partner for technology development and programme management.

According to a press statement, a team driving this initiative will help standardise the data collection from partner medical institutions and curate those data with the aim to make them available to the broader community of researchers and innovators in India. 

WHY IT MATTERS

IISc said in a statement that building quality and curated medical imaging datasets that represent India’s diversity of people, settings, and needs will accelerate research and innovation to realise AI’s promise to improve healthcare access and boost staff productivity. 

Such data, it further said, will also be instrumental in the assessment of AI-based tools, thus accelerating their deployment.

THE LARGER TREND

Other population health initiatives around Asia-Pacific also seek to harness population-level data to generate deep insights into their respective health issues and needs to improve health outcomes.

For one, Singapore’s Precision Health Research is conducting a large-scale population study with genomics technology firm Illumina to build a comprehensive precision medicine database to generate insights into Asian genomic diversity and Asian-specific diseases. Another Singaporean institution, the National Cancer Centre Singapore, is involved in an effort to build a local clinico-genomic database to gain insights that will drive better outcomes for cancer patients.

ON THE RECORD

In welcoming this national initiative, Govindan Rangarajan, professor and director of IISc, said: “Our goal 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 exactly that by creating invaluable datasets to propel the next generation of innovations for India and the world.”

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