Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Friday, June 9, 2023

MD Anderson Teams up with Watson for “Moon Shots” 

Today, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and IBM have announced that Watson’s cognitive computing system will come to the facility to help put an end to cancer. Watson will be used to power MD Anderson’s Oncology Expert Advisor to tap the cancer center’s expansive patient and research databases for patient care and ongoing research.

Starting with Leukemia, physicians will be using Oncology Expert Advisor to help develop, observe and adjust patient treatment plans while helping to catch and correct any adverse reactions as quickly as possible. Clinicians can access the tool through a computer or supported mobile device, wherein Watson technology can help to understand the context of a clinician’s question to dig through large volumes of data to find the answer.

According to IBM researchers, Watson’s ability to sort through and extract answers from data will help researchers to more quickly complete and find benefit from clinical trials. Currently, although $95 billion is spent every year on these studies, only six percent are wrapped up on time.

“IBM Watson represents a new era of computing, in which data no longer needs to be a challenge, but rather, a catalyst to more efficiently deploy new advances into patient care,” says Manoj Saxena, general manager of IBM Watson Solutions. “By helping researchers and physicians understand the meaning behind each other’s data, we can empower researchers with evidence to advance novel discoveries, while helping enable physicians to make the best treatment choices or place patients in the right clinical trials.”

As such, MD Anderson expects for the Watson technology to play a key role in its APOLLO program, an “adaptive learning environment” that the organization is working on as a part of what they call “Moon Shots.” APOLLO will create an environment to standardize collection, ingestion and integration of patient medical and clinical history, laboratory data and research data into MD Anderson’s patient data warehouse, where it will be made available to the Oncology Expert Advisor as well as larger Moon Shots research.

Moon Shots’ mission is to target eight cancers: acute myeloid leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, lung cancer, melanoma, prostate cancer, and linked triple-negative breast cancer and high-grade serous ovarian cancer.

Each condition was chosen due to the potential for technology to greatly reduce cancer deaths, although MD Anderson hopes to expand the program to all cancers eventually.