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UPMC Funds Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance

March 17, 2015
by David Raths
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Health system forms research partnership with Pitt, Carnegie Mellon

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh to leverage big data for healthcare breakthroughs.

UPMC is funding the newly formed Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance. Research will be conducted by Pitt-led and CMU-led centers, with participation from all three institutions. The centers will work to transform the explosion of health-related data into new technologies, products and services to change the way diseases are prevented and how patients are diagnosed, treated and engaged in their own care, UPMC said. The new research centers at CMU and Pitt will be funded over the next six years by UPMC and also will benefit from several hundred million dollars in existing research grants at all three institutions.

As an example of the kind of work the alliance will focus on, UPMC said researchers could use data analysis to help hospitals and doctors rapidly detect potential new outbreaks and immediately alert staff and authorities to take appropriate actions. 

The two research and development centers are: the Center for Machine Learning and Health (CMLH), led by founding director Eric Xing, Ph.D., a CMU professor in the Department of Machine Learning; and the Center for Commercial Applications of Healthcare Data (CCA), spearheaded by Michael Becich, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the Department of Biomedical Informatics at Pitt. Scientists from all three institutions will participate in the work of each center.

The alliance hopes to spur data-intensive innovations, resulting in spin-off companies and furthering economic development in the region. UPMC Enterprises, the commercialization arm of UPMC, will lead the efforts to turn innovative ideas into new, for-profit companies.

 “The complementary strengths of the alliance’s partner institutions will allow us to re-imagine health care for millions of people in our shared, data-driven world,” said Subra Suresh, president of CMU, in a prepared statement. “Through this collaboration, we will move more rapidly to immediate prevention and remediation, further accelerate the development of evidence-based medicine, and augment disease-centered models with patient-centered models of care.”