The NIH Director Advisory Committee advances the AI ​​and Health Equity program

The NIH Director Advisory Committee advances the AI ​​and Health Equity program

The ACD members unanimously approved the concept, clearing the way for NIH staff to develop a research funding opportunity to be announced this summer, with disbursement of awards in Sept. 2021. A recorded videocast of the May 6 meeting is available. Meanwhile, the ACD is scheduled to meet again on June 10-11, 2021 for discussion of other issues. Nina Paltoo, PhD, MPH, assistant director for scientific strategy and innovation in NIH’s National Heart Lung and Blood Institute presented the proposed concept for a multi-year program, with $50 million a year of appropriated funds starting in FY21, aimed at “increasing the participation, representation, and inclusivity of researchers and communities underrepresented in the development of AI/ML models, including electronic health record (EHR) data.” The proposed program aims to develop and support “a researcher and data network of highly diverse institutions that would contribute their own data; leverage AI/ML infrastructure, training, and know-how; and conduct the biomedical research that is most important to them.”

Source NIH Principal Deputy Director Larry Tabak, DDS, PhD, presented the report of the ACD working group on AI/ML Electronic Medical Records for Research Purposes that supports development of the proposed concept. The working group noted that some especially pressing challenges in the application of AI/ML center on long-standing inequities, including the lack of diverse representation in biomedical studies and datasets, and the prevalence of harmful biases in AI/ML practices and algorithms, which perpetuate and threaten to widen health disparities and inequities. Many under-represented communities lack the financial, infrastructural, and training support to leverage AI in biomedical health and research – despite the fact that those communities have great potential to contribute to data, diverse recruitment and cutting-edge science.

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