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IBM Watson, Broad Institute Expand Collaboration Into Heart Disease

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – IBM Watson Health today announced an expansion to its partnership with the Broad Institute, providing artificial intelligence to help clinicians mine genomic data to predict patient risk for cardiovascular disease.

Under the new three-year agreement, IBM Watson and the Broad will build algorithms to extract knowledge from population-wide and hospital-based biobank data, genomic information, and electronic health records to develop genetic risk scores. The ultimate goal is to create computational models to analyze phenotypic and genotypic data to identify risk factors within individual genomes so clinicians can intervene early and prevent potential heart attacks and atrial fibrillation.

The partners said they eventually would make their technology tools available to researchers everywhere.

"We're excited to build upon the advances we've made in polygenic risk scoring utilizing vast amount of genomic data," Sekar Kathiresan, director of the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and director of the Broad's Cardiovascular Disease Initiative at the Broad Institute, said in a statement. "By coupling clinical data with genomic data, there is an exceptional opportunity to make polygenic risk scoring more robust and powerful, and ultimately transformative for patient care. Such transformation could never happen without these kinds of partnerships."

IBM Watson Health Senior Vice President John Kelly said that the new collaboration will "refine how technology can provide explainable and valuable insights to clinicians as they study and treat serious conditions such as cardiovascular disease."

IBM Watson and the Broad already are a little more than two years into a five-year, $50 million research initiative that seeks to discover the basis for drug resistance in cancers.

The Broad is a partner in IBM Watson Genomics from Quest Diagnostics, a service that is available to oncologists nationwide that focuses on oncology diagnostics and providing options for evidence-based methods of treating cancer.

IBM Watson today also announced that it would put a total of $50 million into a 10-year research collaboration with the Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and with Vanderbilt University Medical Center to apply AI to public health.