Advancing Health Equity and Researcher Diversity: NIH Drives Forward its Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium – AIM-AHEAD

**Leveraging Advanced Analytics in Public Health: Insights from Dr. Susan Gregurick**

**A Transformative Role for Data in Public Health**

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the significance of big data analytics in public health to the forefront of public consciousness. The general public closely followed metrics and dashboards that provided real-time updates on hospitalization rates, new infections, and deaths. However, healthcare professionals emphasize that data-driven decision making has always been integral to the industry, predating the computing age.

**Harnessing Opportunities with Advanced Analytics at NIH**

During an interview on the GovFuture podcast, Dr. Susan Gregurick, Associate Director for Data Science and Director of the Office of Data Science Strategy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), discussed how the NIH utilizes advanced analytics to drive data-driven decision making. She also shed light on the unique challenges the NIH faces in leveraging advanced analytics while ensuring data privacy and security.

**Implementing a Comprehensive Data Science Plan**

Dr. Gregurick’s office leads the implementation of the NIH strategic plan for data science, which focuses on various activities such as data interoperability, platform interoperability, data accessibility, data standards, and the reuse of data. They also establish policies related to privacy, ethics, and data sovereignty, while promoting diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility.

**Ethical Use of Advanced Analytics**

Dr. Gregurick emphasized the importance of the ethical use of advanced analytic technology like artificial intelligence. She highlighted the significant advances in artificial intelligence and generative AI, which have expedited scientific discoveries and brought treatments and cures to keep people healthy.

**Advancing Health Equity and Researcher Diversity through AI**

Dr. Gregurick introduced the Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program. AIM-AHEAD aims to enhance the participation and representation of researchers and communities in the development of AI models. The program focuses on recruiting new students and scholars, funding cutting-edge programs, and making a substantial impact in the AI community.

**Enhancing Diagnostic and Treatment Capabilities with AI**

The NIH has experienced a significant acceleration in diagnostic and treatment capabilities through the use of AI. For instance, AI has drastically reduced the time required to diagnose rare genetic diseases in infants. By quickly sequencing the infant’s entire genome and comparing it against a vast database of genetic disorders, AI can pinpoint the specific disorder within five minutes. This allows for faster development of therapeutics, particularly beneficial for infants with rare genetic disorders.

**Addressing Privacy and Ethics Concerns**

The use of private medical data raises concerns surrounding data security, privacy, and ethics. Dr. Gregurick addressed the unique challenges faced by the NIH in leveraging advanced analytics while ensuring data privacy and security. The NIH supports approximately 80 controlled access data repositories that protect participant data privacy and security. To streamline access to these repositories, the NIH has implemented Research Health Services (RHS), a standardized system that provides researchers with a single sign-on capability across multiple data systems. This enhances data security and simplifies the process for researchers to gain access to controlled data.

**Insights from Dr. Susan Gregurick**

In addition to the podcast interview, Dr. Susan Gregurick shared her expertise as a featured panelist at the GovFuture Forum DC event at George Mason University (GMU). Her insights further highlighted the adoption and utilization of AI and advanced analytics in public health.

*Disclosure: Ronald Schmelzer is an Executive Director at GovFuture.*

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