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Carnegie Mellon, U Pittsburgh Team with Pittsburgh Medical Center on Big Data Health Care Initiative

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) have teamed up to explore ways big data can improve health care.

The team, dubbed the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance, is funded by UPMC and will focus on working "to transform the explosion of health-related data into new technologies, products and services to change the way diseases are prevented and how patients are diagnosed, treated and engaged in their own care," according to a news release.

Work for the initiative will leverage Pitt's health sciences research, CMU's computer science and machine learning resources and UPMC's commercialization expertize and extensive patient data. The research will take place at two centers, the Center for Machine Learning and Health (CMLH), led by CMU's Eric Xing of the Department of Machine Learning, and the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data (CCA), led by Michael Becich, chair of Pitt's Department of Biomedical Informatics.

"The CMLH will work on challenging problems at the intersections of health care and machine learning," according to a news release. "Data from sources as varied as electronic medical records, genomic sequencing, insurance records and wearable sensors will be utilized to directly improve health care. For example, imagine a smartphone app that suggests the single dietary change that will most improve your health, based on your genetic makeup and medical history. Or suppose a physician receives an automatic alert when a patient enters the earliest stages of rejecting a transplanted organ and can react while the condition is most easily treatable. The center will focus on five areas: big health care data analytics; personalized medicine and disease modeling; issues of privacy, security and compliance in the context of big data; data-driven patient and provider education and training; and a new general framework for big data in health care."

The CCA will focus on researching and inventing new technologies for individualized therapies and imaging systems based on big data.
"The complementary strengths of the alliance's partner institutions will allow us to re-imagine health care for millions of people in our shared, data-driven world," said Subra Suresh, president of CMU, in a prepared statement. "Through this collaboration, we will move more rapidly to immediate prevention and remediation, further accelerate the development of evidence-based medicine and augment disease-centered models with patient-centered models of care."

The alliance will be funded for the next six years by UPMC along with several hundred million dollars in existing grant funds at all three institutions.

More information is available at

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].

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