Strengthening of international commitments; data science center in East Africa and proposals to address global challenges


Strengthening of international commitments; data science center in East Africa and proposals to address global challenges

UZIMA-DS will use machine learning to identify creative solutions to help healthcare providers and policy makers in a resource-constrained environment. AKU Credit

Aga Khan University, a collaborating institution of the University of Michigan, received a $ 6.5 million NIH grant to establish an advanced data science center that will use artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies to improve health care delivery in local communities. .

Facilitated by UM’s Center for Global Health Equity, the funding will support the UtiliZing Health Information for Meaningful impact in East Africa through Data Science Initiative, or UZIMA-DS. It will be the first of its kind in the region, harnessing artificial intelligence, machine learning and other emerging technologies to improve health and care delivery in local communities.

Akbar Waljee, professor of internal medicine at UM, who helped forge a partnership with AKU earlier this year, will serve as co-principal investigator for the grant along with Amina Abubakar, director of the Institute for Human Development at the ‘AKU.

“I am honored to work with Professor Abubakar and his AKU colleagues who share my passion for using AI and machine learning to impact health equity and improve the lives of people. people, ”Waljee said.

Waljee and Abubakar received seed funding for their partnership from the Center for Global Health Equity, where Waljee co-leads a Data Science Challenge Group.

The UZIMA-DS project will initially seek to leverage data science to proactively avoid negative maternal and newborn health and mental health outcomes. Through machine learning, an application of artificial intelligence, they seek to identify creative solutions to help healthcare providers and policy makers in resource-constrained environments.

“Early identification and intervention is essential for a good prognosis in all health conditions,” said Abubakar. “However, in many low- and middle-income countries there is a dearth of tools that can be used for the early identification of women, children and young adults at risk for poor physical and mental health.”

The grant is part of the NIH Common Fund’s larger Harnessing Data Science for Health Discovery and Innovation in Africa program, which aims to leverage data science technologies to develop solutions to the continent’s most pressing public health problems through to a strong ecosystem of new university, public and private sector partners.

“Being able to then translate these emerging technologies for use in East Africa will enable communities to harness data for better health,” said Waljee. “Additionally, it will provide a potential model for use in other contexts around the world.”

UM and AKU have been collaborating on projects since 2019 with a focus on research initiatives that use data science to improve health outcomes. UM is one of the largest public research institutions in the world and welcomes more than 64,000 students per year at its three campuses in the state of Michigan. These students represent 139 countries.

Virtual collaborations abroad

The Center for Academic Innovation accepts online course and series proposals that address fundamental global challenges facing an increasingly interconnected world.

As the world continues to grapple with the challenges brought on by the pandemic, there are critical issues that countries, organizations and people grapple with every day, from climate change and sustainability to automation and in the future of work.

Just as the UM community has taken on the challenges of the pandemic and advanced solutions for online teaching and learning, the university is also in a unique position to impact these issues on a global scale.

“UM is leading higher education towards a blended future, as we continue to address the most pressing challenges facing our world today and tomorrow,” said UM President Mark Schlissel. “Through our faculty’s commitment to innovation and our ethos of interdisciplinary collaboration, we are expanding the public mission of our university and creating a global virtual campus alongside the world-class residential experiences we will always offer.”

Faculty members are encouraged to submit proposals on a wide range of global challenges and work with the center to develop a massive open online course or series of courses. Proposals will be accepted until November 19 and decisions will be made in mid-December.

Approved proposals include a faculty allowance and in-kind support from the center, including instructional design, project management, media production, and marketing support. There is also funding for course development assistance and opportunities to share income from course registrations.

Learners based in over 200 countries have signed up for Michigan Online’s portfolio of e-learning opportunities more than 15 million times. Additionally, current faculty, staff, students and alumni have free lifetime access to the UM course catalog. The center has worked with faculty to develop nearly 200 MOOCs to date.

Proposals are encouraged in any topic that addresses the great challenges of an interconnected world, with certain categories of high interest, including climate change and sustainability, financial technology, artificial intelligence, programming for statisticians and l data analysis, robotics, technology and policies related to mobility, ethics and economics of social media, mental health issues and the humanities.

“In a rapidly changing world, we are expanding UM’s mission through Michigan Online to support lifelong learners as they seek to acquire new skills and understand complex issues,” said James DeVaney, founding executive director of the Center for Academic Innovation.

“But understanding the problems is not enough. Through Michigan Online, we provide lifelong learning and connection opportunities – opportunities to explore and learn new skills; participate in interdisciplinary, interprofessional and intergenerational communities; and create new knowledge to solve the most important problems.

(In collaboration with the Academic innovation center and the Center for Global Health Equity.)

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