HSC receives $50 million to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to rectify health disparities

September 29, 2021

HSC Sign

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced a $50 million award to the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth (HSC) to lead the coordinating center for the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity, or AIM-AHEAD, program. HSC will lead the multi-institutional coordinating center, which brings together experts in community engagement, artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML), health equity research, data science training, and data infrastructure.  

AIM-AHEAD was created to close the gaps in the AI/ML field, which currently lacks diversity in its researchers and in data, including electronic health records (EHRs). These gaps pose a risk of creating and continuing harmful biases in how AI/ML is used, how algorithms are developed and trained, and how findings are interpreted. Critically, these gaps can lead to continued health disparities and inequities for underrepresented communities. 

“This consortium will bring together research institutions, minority-serving institutions, private sector and community organizations in mutually beneficial, coordinated, and trusted partnerships to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities currently underrepresented in the development of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Dr. Jamboor Vishwanatha, Regents Professor and Vice President who will lead the AIM-AHEAD Coordinating Center. “Through this consortium we will harness the benefits of this technology to address health disparities in our communities.”  

The initial phase of the project starts on Sept. 22, 2021 through Sept. 16, 2023. The contract amount for two years is $100 million, with future funding based on federal budget allocation.  

This project has a significant impact on the educational, research, and community engagement activities underway at HSC, where bridging health disparities is a top mission. 

“HSC is thrilled to be leading this important work in health disparities,” said Dr. Michael Williams, HSC President. “The award from NIH to lead the AIM-AHEAD program solidifies HSC as a leader in this critical area and will ensure we continue our mission of creating solutions for a healthier community for many years to come.”   

The coordinating center’s location in the City of Fort Worth – the 12th largest city in the nation – is a welcomed asset. Fort Worth is continually working to create opportunities for all community members. The city is eager to be part of a national team working to build health equity. 

“The City of Fort Worth is honored to partner with HSC and NIH on this important work as we continue to break down barriers that create health disparities,” said Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker. “This is meaningful work that supports our mission of creating opportunity for all in Fort Worth regardless of zip code. We look forward to this opportunity to help drive meaningful change and create solutions around health inequities and disparities in our neighborhoods.”   

AIM-AHEAD strives to eliminate harmful biases that exist in algorithms, training, and the interpretation of data while engaging diverse scientists, including those from underrepresented groups, across career pipelines. 

The goal of this program is building and advancing AI/ML approaches using EHR and other types of data (e.g., genomics, imaging, social determinants of health) to redress health disparities and advance health equity. There is an emphasis on providing technical assistance and training on research and implementation of AI/ML to lay the groundwork for the preparation of new data systems that can be used by research personnel from diverse backgrounds, including those from underrepresented groups. 

“Our world’s increasing reliance on technology and data means strong STEM-focused minds will continue to be in high demand, and we should give Texans in these fields every advantage to succeed,” said Sen. Cornyn. “I applaud this announcement and will continue to do everything I can to support young minds in Fort Worth.” 

Underrepresented communities have untapped potential to contribute new expertise, data, recruitment strategies, and cutting-edge science to the AI/ML field. This program seeks to increase the participation and engagement of the researchers and communities that are currently underrepresented in AI/ML modeling and applications through mutually beneficial partnerships. 

NIH envisions a multi-year program beginning with FY21 appropriated funds for AI/ML to develop and support a researcher and data network of highly diverse institutions with the capacity and interest to contribute their own data.  

“This network will be foundational to achieving the goals of the AIM-AHEAD program, which include providing more inclusive data for health disparities research, and enhancing the diversity of AI/ML leadership,” said NIH Associate Director for Data Science Susan Gregurick, Ph.D. 

Tackling the complex drivers of health disparities requires innovation, and a transdisciplinary framework that cuts across scientific and organizational silos to integrate multiple disciplines. NIH is actively seeking public and private partnerships to help achieve the ambitious goals of this program. 

Rita Fc
TCOM’s Dr. Rita Patterson named recipient of the 2021 ASHT Honorary Membership Award

By Steven Bartolotta The American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) announced that Rita Patterson, PhD has been named the recipient of the 2021 ASHT Honorary Membership Award. Dr. Patterson, the Associate Dean of Research at the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine (TCOM), received the aw...Read more

Oct 22, 2021

Warwick Drakeford reads his mother, Robina Drakeford, a special childhood book.
HSC’s Center for Older Adults supporting ‘Walk to End Alzheimer’s’

By Steven Bartolotta    The world’s largest fundraiser for Alzheimer’s care, support and research is coming to Fort Worth. HSC’s Center for Older Adults is supporting the Alzheimer’s Association for the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” on Oct. 30 at The Shops at Clearfork in Fort Wort...Read more

Oct 21, 2021

New Logo Hsc Install On February 16th On Ead Building.
HSC Health Center for Older Adults exploring how lifestyle changes can support brain health

By Kathryn Lytton Though not completely preventable, there are many lifestyle choices that can impact your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, and the team at the HSC Health Center for Older Adults is working to help implement support for patients to make better choice...Read more

Oct 21, 2021

Emily Mire, Executive Director, HSC Student and Academic Success in the Division of Student and Academic Affairs
Building healthier communities: ‘The people are a big reason of why I am here’

By Diane Smith-Pinckney Emily Mire, who has since earned her PhD in Health Studies, was a graduate student when she first arrived at The University of North Texas Health Science at Fort Worth (HSC) in 2008.  The Louisiana native went from knowing no one to finding an extended family ...Read more

Oct 21, 2021