Many people think of NVIDIA as a manufacturer of the types of high-end graphics processing units (GPUs) beloved of gamers, data centre operators, and cryptocurrency miners. But the company does much more, and is increasingly playing a leading role in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning.
As such, it is taking a keen interest in a market that is set to be revolutionised by AI applications: healthcare.
Internet of Business spoke to Abdul Hamid Halabi, NVIDIA’s Global Business Development lead for Healthcare & Life Sciences, to learn more about NVIDIA’s growth and innovation strategies across this sector.
Internet of Business: We are used to seeing hospital imaging machines provide information about what’s going on inside our bodies. But NVIDIA is building a virtual imaging platform called CLARA. What’s the strategy behind the technology?
Abdul Hamid Halabi: “NVIDIA CLARA is an open platform that enables the medical industry to build and deploy breakthrough algorithms to create intelligent instruments and automate healthcare workflows.
“There are over three million medical imaging instruments in the world right now. These are vital to early disease detection and the improvement of patient outcomes. Imaging techniques like CT, MR, ultrasound, x-ray, and mammography are applied by doctors all over the world across specialisations, from oncology and neurology to gynaecology.
“However, advances in artificial intelligence and computing technology have made it possible to reduce radiation exposure, improve image quality, and produce images in real time.
“CLARA helps the imaging industry to bring about the amazing advancements they are creating in their instruments by providing an open, scalable, remote, and universal computing platform for them to use.”
What role does AI take in CLARA? Will it help with analysis, diagnosis, and even with treatment?
“NVIDIA CLARA is an open platform to enable the healthcare industry to create and deploy AI across the patient journey, but our initial focus is on medical imaging.
“Over the past several years, AI has experienced a big bang. Deep learning, which trains machines to understand data, is revolutionising every industry, from automotive and financial services to energy discovery and retail. But it is in the healthcare sector where deep learning promises to have the most profound impact.
“Today, over 50 percent of researchers at leading medical imaging research conferences, such as MICCAI, say they are using deep learning. There are hundreds of startups developing algorithms with well over a billion dollars in combined funding over the last few years.
“Use cases span across the imaging pipeline from smarter acquisition of images to earlier detection and quantification of diseases – for example, measuring the size of a tumour in a scan – to early prognosis, predicting which treatment the patient will best respond to, based on their imaging.
“These innovations in AI offer the healthcare system three key benefits: efficiency, cost reduction and, most importantly, improved patient care.”
Does CLARA open up possibilities for healthcare professionals to share information more widely?
“As a platform, NVIDIA CLARA provides support for multiple software stacks: compute, visualisation, and AI. One key component of these software stacks is virtualisation and remote access. This technology enables our industry partners and developers to create applications that can be shared with ease across the healthcare organisation, allowing healthcare professionals high-availability access to data.”
Does using CLARA require expensive additional equipment to produce imaging data in the right format?
“Equipment augmented with supercomputers has the opportunity to make instruments smaller, cheaper, and more intelligent – making it more accessible.
“NVIDIA CLARA is a platform to enable our partners to take their existing and their newly created algorithms and bring them to their existing installed base. The data formats do not necessarily need to change.”
How is NVIDIA using AI in other healthcare implementations?
“NVIDIA builds the computer platforms that life science researchers, healthcare organisations, pharmaceutical companies, and startups around the world use to create AI. The implications for disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention are transformative.
“For example, French startup Therapixel is using deep learning and NVIDIA’s technology to improve the accuracy of breast cancer diagnosis. Their system has been trained to recognise indicators of cancer in x-rays with superhuman accuracy. Having won the 2017 global Digital Mammography Challenge and succeeded in reducing false positives by five percent, Therapixel expects to receive regulatory clearance for its solution soon.
“At Oxford University, a group of malaria researchers have used deep learning to create an app that can ‘listen’ to mosquitos and identify their species via their unique sound signatures. In the past, the only way for researchers to identify insects carrying the life-threatening illnesses was to get bitten!
Their solution will help researchers around the world to better map and tackle malaria, which infected more than 200 million people in 2016 alone.
“And in drug discovery, AI is being used to make the process faster and more efficient. Developing a new drug costs an average of nearly $2.6 billion and can take as long as 14 years. Deep learning is being used to speed up various aspects of this process, from simulating how a potential drug molecule will bind with a target protein, to analysing the vast amounts of bioscience information published in biomedical journals to identify promising research.”
Much of this is ‘behind the scenes’ stuff. How might AI help with patient care – more directly from the patient’s perspective?
“AI, deep learning, and high-performance computing may seem like abstract concepts. But in healthcare the difference they’re making is literally life-saving.
“AI applications will help doctors diagnose diseases more quickly, freeing up resources to spend more time with more patients. It will make harmless procedures like MRI scans faster, allowing doctors to use them more often for more accurate diagnosis. And it will personalise treatment by putting advanced DNA analysis capabilities in the hands of every doctor.
“NVIDIA’s purpose is to empower future doctors with superhuman capabilities so that patients can benefit from better care.”
Internet of Business says
AI and deep learning – especially when combined with imaging techniques and wearable devices – have the ability to transform healthcare, by looking for patterns in data that may not be obvious to the naked eye, helping to speed diagnoses, save lives, and even predict susceptibility to disease.
Here are just some of our recent reports in this area:-
- Read more: NHS to train staff in AI and robotics, says government
- Read more: Health IoT: Wearable can predict older adults’ risk of falling
- Read more: Report warns of DeepMind Health monopoly
- Read more: Health IoT: Ingestible sensor can help diagnose disease
- Read more: Amazon building healthcare team in Alexa division
- Read more: Health tech: Does Nokia’s exit mean wearables market is ill?
- Read more: Healthtech: Wearable helps injured athletes recover faster
- Read more: Health IoT: New wearable can diagnose stomach problems