Cambridge award winners in AI innovation


21-06-2021
Dr Raj Jena, CUH oncologist and project lead

Ground-breaking AI projects involving Addenbrooke's hospital have won prestigious new funding awards.

The projects use machine learning technology or AI (artificial intelligence) to help cut the time patients wait for treatment and give more accurate diagnosis.

Making the announcement, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said 38 projects from across the UK will share £36m to test state-of-the-art AI technology.

The Addenbrooke’s radiotherapy AI project uses the "Project InnerEye" open-source AI toolkit created by Cambridge-based Microsoft Research, collaborating with clinicians at the hospital and researchers at Cambridge University.

The NHSX AI Award project is lead by Dr Raj Jena (pictured), a consultant oncologist at Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH).

"We believe this is first time an NHS hospital has trained its own medical imaging AI for its own patients," said Dr Jena. “I am so pleased that our project has been awarded Government funding to take it to the next level.

"AI has the capacity to deliver so much behind-the-scenes routine work, enabling doctors to spend more time face-to-face with patients, and shortening the time that patients have to wait for treatment."

Over the next year, CUH will work with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, using Project InnerEye’s AI to differentiate tumour and healthy tissue on cancer scans (called ‘segmenting’), before starting radiotherapy treatment.

Other award winners include a multi-centre study, including CUH, which is using AI to detect osteoporotic fractures and identify new patients for treatment.

Dr Ken Poole, who is leading the study in Cambridge, said: “Each year over two million people undergo scans that include the spine, for various reasons such as lung or bowel problems. Remarkably, up to one in 20 of people having these scans could have a spine fracture, although very few fractures are recognised or acted upon.

“This project will use an innovative AI software that automatically looks at existing CT scans to find these fractures."

Funding has also been awarded to a team lead by CUH neurosurgery consultant Dr Stephen Price, and aims to use AI to monitor slow-growing brain tumours. He said: "We want to use AI to more accurately monitor and to predict which patients we need to watch carefully and which we can reassure."

A fourth award goes to Cambridge researchers with close links to CUH.

Professor Emanuele Di Angelantonio from the NIHR Blood and Transplant Research Unit in Donor Health and Genomics is part of a team awarded more than £1million to improve, develop and implement AI-systems for genetic blood group typing, the automated stocking of blood according to type and the precision matching of patients to blood units.

Speaking at the award ceremony Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said: "AI has the potential to completely revolutionise every part of how we approach healthcare.

“The 38 projects we are backing reflect the UK’s trailblazing approach to innovation in the healthcare sector, and could help us take a leap forward in the quality of care and the speed of disease diagnoses and treatment in the NHS."

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Cambridge University Hospitals is one of the largest and best known trusts in the country. As the local hospital for our community we deliver care through Addenbrooke’s and the Rosie hospitals.

Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust