Big data center for precision medicine opens at Duke

By Folake Dosu  |  November 12, 2018

big-data-duke-center

Precision medicine allows doctors to tailor care on a per patient basis and big data analytics is critical in ensuring its effectiveness. HealthITAnalytics reports that the university’s Pratt School of Engineering has opened the Sherry and John Woo Center for Big Data and Precision Health to ensure the advance of data-driven health research.

Over the next three years, John Woo, philanthropist and biotech industry executive, will contribute more than $3 million in funding. According to HealthITAnalytics the new facility “will help Duke faculty and students develop innovative methods for turning big data into actionable clinical insights.” 

Investigators at the center can expect to partner with “hospitals, government agencies, and biotech companies worldwide” in the course of their research.

“Big data, analytics, and machine learning are changing our world significantly, and nowhere will the change be more significant and meaningful than in healthcare,” said Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Vinik Dean of Engineering at Duke, to HealthITAnalytics.

“Duke Engineering and Duke Health are collaboratively leading this change, and the Woo Center will help catalyze this further by coordinating new partnerships, expanding access to diverse, well-curated datasets and fueling transformative research ideas in this space.”

Though only launched a month ago, the Sherry and John Woo Center for Big Data and Precision Health is already conducting research in rural China to improve care delivery in underserved areas.

“Big data and precision medicine have the potential to vastly improve human health and Duke has a special role to play with its unique combination of strengths in data science and machine learning, biomedical engineering and medicine—our faculty are world leaders in each of these areas.”

To foster innovation, the center plans to award annual pilot grants of up to $150,000 to Duke faculty for new projects in addition to holding an annual research symposium and sponsoring knowledge sharing opportunities such as global internships and exchanges for Duke students.

Larry Carin, Vice Provost for Research at Duke, affirms that this is an endeavor worthy of investment. “Big data and precision medicine have the potential to vastly improve human health,” he explains to HealthITAnalytics, “and Duke has a special role to play with its unique combination of strengths in data science and machine learning, biomedical engineering and medicine—our faculty are world leaders in each of these areas.” 

“Through new partnerships in China and around the world, we hope to address pressing medical issues in emerging markets and reduce disparities to improve global health.”

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