Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ohio Healthcare Hotshots Join Hands for Medical Research 

Hoping to make the most of growing data volumes, three of Cleveland’s biomedical giants—Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals and Case Western Reserve University’s medical school—have joined forces in the name of research.

The effort will launch the Institute of Computational Biology, which its founders say will help to make a dent in the massive amount of clinical data that has been gathered in recent years.

The institute’s first major task will be to look at patient data gathered and formated to the liking of each individual organization, strip it of sensitive patient information and reformat them in a way that will be universally understandable to researchers, and thus meaningful.

But it’s not just the volume of data that makes the project so important. According to officials of Case Western Reserve, it took a combined $21.5 million from the three institutions to make the institute possible. Although no breakdown of that sum was provided, Case Western Reserve, which is leading the effort, was adamant that this wouldn’t have been possible by any of the three if they were acting alone.

“Big data is costly,” says Dr. Pamela Davis, dean of Case Western Reserve’s School of Medicine. “There’s a certain economy of scale of being able to do this together.”

Hoping to generate more excitement for the effort is Dr. Jonathan L. Haines, an expert in the areas of genetics and biostatistics, and the institute’s director. Already Haines made a mark with Vanderbilt University, where he helped launch the university’s Center for Human Genetics Research, but Paul DiCorleto, chair of the Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute says that for Haines it was time for “something bigger and grander.”

“He wanted to make something happen in Cleveland,” DiCorleto says. “When you put together UH, the Cleveland Clinic and their patient numbers, he can have a great impact with his data analysis.”

And according to Haines, the Institute of Computational Biology could one day extend well beyond these three institutions that brought it into being. Already he says that the institute is in discussions with MetroHealth to use its data for the project, and expects that other hospitals are soon to become involved.

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