Artificial Intelligence and big data in hematology. Discover CALR: the brand-new research center of Humanitas and Politecnico di Milano
The experience and the skills of three structures of excellence – Humanitas University, Humanitas Research Hospital and Politecnico di Milano – combined in a new research center with the aim of exploring the possibilities offered by Artificial Intelligence and the analysis of big data to improve our understanding of biology and treatment of blood diseases, helping to develop innovative personalized medicine programs in hematology.
The name of the new center is CALR (Center for Accelerating Leukemia/Lymphoma Research). The acronym CALR is also the name of one of the most important genes associated with blood diseases, and represents one of the foundations of modern personalized hematology. On Thursday 11th February the birth of the association was officially signed by the representatives of the three institutions: Dr. Giorgio Ferrari, managing director of Humanitas University, Dr. Luciano Ravera, CEO of IRCCS Humanitas Clinical Institute, and Prof. Donatella Sciuto, Deputy Rector of the Politecnico di Milano.
The association’s Artificial Intelligence management is entrusted to the Humanitas AI Center the first Artificial Intelligence Research Center integrated into a hospital in Italy. Here, engineers, data scientists and doctors work side by side to achieve higher standards of care and discover new paths for Scientific Research, by means of big data analysis, machine learning and crossed-functional skills.
Indeed, CALR has the ambition to use Artificial Intelligence and big data analysis to advance research in the field of hematology and improve patient care. «The goal of our research center is to encourage the development of projects that have as a common denominator the use of Artificial Intelligence to answer questions of clinical interest, and to shorten the time with which the results of a scientific discovery can be translated into a practical benefit for patients», says Prof. Matteo Della Porta, head of Leukemia and Myelodysplasia, Cancer Center of Humanitas and professor of hematology at Humanitas University.
The research center is part of the strategic alliance of Humanitas University and Politecnico di Milano that led to the creation of the MEDTEC degree course, the first in Italy in Medicine and Biomedical Engineering. «The center has a strong mission in training young researchers, who will have the unique opportunity to work in a multidisciplinary environment that contaminates clinical and translational research skills in hematology with advanced knowledge of new data analysis and Artificial Intelligence technologies. The same spirit of innovation and multidisciplinarity that can be found in the philosophy of MEDTEC», underlines Della Porta. «Our ambition is to create a broad platform of research in hematology, with the progressive involvement of other partners: universities and hospitals, subjects oriented towards industrial research and development. We are open to every initiative that broaden the concept of traditional research».
The focus of the project is hematology, a field where the concept of personalized medicine and genomics has already entered clinical practice. «The first projects concern the integration of genomic and clinical data in the diagnosis, prognosis and choice of treatment for the patient – continues the coordinator of the CALR research center. A concept that already exists in hematology, but is put into practice with methods that are still unsuitable for handling so many complex data. The first objective will be to develop algorithms and solutions in this direction».
The research will be focused on diseases such as acute and chronic leukemias and lymphomas. «There is a lot of therapeutic and pharmacological innovation in the treatment of these pathologies, so it is very important to understand which is the most correct strategy to improve the treatments and to rationalize the resources -, says the professor -. The first study, which is already underway, aims to optimize transplant strategies for leukemia. Understanding which patients could benefit from stem cell transplantation and the right time for each patient to do it».
Humanitas will provide the new center with its skills in scientific research, but also with the experience gained thanks to the new artificial intelligence center, the first to be born in the context of an Italian research hospital.
The Politecnico brings an international leadership in industrial research, data analysis and Artificial Intelligence. Building partnerships, sharing data and knowledge, promoting education and training: these are CALR’s watchwords. With a positive contamination that helps train doctors and researchers with a clinical vision and the ability to analyse data in an innovative way.