The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare have launched the Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research to focus on potential uses for blockchain technology to solve problems in health care and medical science.
Blockchain is a distributed, decentralized secure database system originally developed for Bitcoin and many organizations are now exploring its potential uses in the healthcare industry. The two organizations are calling the new venture the first of its kind at any academic medical center.
The Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research is led by Joel Dudley, Ph.D., executive vice president of precision health at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai endowed chair in biomedical data science, associate professor of genetics and genomic sciences, and director of the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare, along with Noah Zimmerman, Ph.D., assistant professor of genetics and genomic sciences and director of the Health Data and Design Innovation Center.
Dudley’s research efforts focus on the application of data-driven approaches and machine intelligence to solve problems in biology and health care. The new center complements Dudley’s previous work developing predictive health applications from electronic health records, wearables, and related digital health information, according to the Mount Sinai Health System. Zimmerman’s research involves designing data-driven technologies to improve decision-making in health care.
According to a press release, the center’s research will lay the groundwork for its forthcoming industry partnership program for companies looking to develop biomedical blockchain solutions that address problems in both clinical medicine and biomedical research.
“There is a lot of excitement around the possibilities for blockchain technology in health care,” Dudley said in a statement. “However, we still have lots of hard work ahead to identify the most salient features of blockchain technologies to solve real-word health care problems.”
The center will work toward developing health care blockchain applications by conducting scholarly evaluations of blockchain-enabled solutions; providing partnership and consulting opportunities with companies working on these projects; and building and testing its own systems within the Mount Sinai Health System.
“Our aim is to understand how blockchain and associated technologies can be applied to unmet needs in health care and biomedicine,” Zimmerman said.
“We expect that some early use cases could emerge from areas where existing systems and approaches fall short,” Dudley said in a statement in the press release. “The fragmented nature of regional and global health care systems prevents the flow of vital information and creates barriers to access for underserved groups. We see the potential for blockchain and related technologies to enable applications that support more unified health care ecosystems and serve the greater goals of realizing national and global precision health networks.“