Cornell University: Collaboration will advance cardiac health through AI

Employing artificial intelligence to help improve outcomes for people with cardiovascular disease is the focus of a three-year, $15 million collaboration among Cornell Tech, the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science (Cornell Bowers CIS) and NewYork-Presbyterian – with physicians from its affiliated medical schools Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (Columbia University VP&S).

The Cardiovascular AI Initiative, to be funded by NewYork-Presbyterian, was launched this summer in a virtual meeting featuring approximately 40 representatives from the institutions.

“AI is poised to fundamentally transform outcomes in cardiovascular health care by providing doctors with better models for diagnosis and risk prediction in heart disease,” said Kavita Bala, professor of computer science and dean of Cornell Bowers CIS. “This unique collaboration between Cornell’s world-leading experts in machine learning and AI and outstanding cardiologists and clinicians from NewYork-Presbyterian, Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia will drive this next wave of innovation for long-lasting impact on cardiovascular health care.”

“NewYork-Presbyterian is thrilled to be joining forces with Cornell Tech and Cornell Bowers CIS to harness advanced technology and develop insights into the prediction and prevention of heart disease to benefit our patients,” said Dr. Steven J. Corwin, president and chief executive officer of NewYork-Presbyterian. “Together with our world-class physicians from Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia, we can transform the way health care is delivered.”

The collaboration aims to improve heart failure treatment, as well as predict and prevent heart failure. Researchers from Cornell Tech and Cornell Bowers CIS, along with physicians from Weill Cornell Medicine and Columbia University VP&S, will use AI and machine learning to examine data from NewYork-Presbyterian in an effort to detect patterns that will help physicians predict who will develop heart failure, inform care decisions and tailor treatments for their patients.

“Artificial intelligence and technology are changing our society and the way we practice medicine,” said Dr. Nir Uriel, director of advanced heart failure and cardiac transplantation at NewYork-Presbyterian, an adjunct professor of medicine in the Greenberg Division of Cardiology at Weill Cornell Medicine and a professor of medicine in the Division of Cardiology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “We look forward to building a bridge into the future of medicine, and using advanced technology to provide tools to enhance care for our heart failure patients.”

The Cardiovascular AI Initiative will develop advanced machine-learning techniques to learn and discover interactions across a broad range of cardiac signals, with the goal of providing improved recognition accuracy of heart failure and extend the state of care beyond current, codified and clinical decision-making rules. It will also use AI techniques to analyze raw data from time series (EKG) and imaging data.

“Major algorithmic advances are needed to derive precise and reliable clinical insights from complex medical data,” said Deborah Estrin, the Robert V. Tishman ’37 Professor of Computer Science, associate dean for impact at Cornell Tech and a professor of population health science at Weill Cornell Medicine. “We are excited about the opportunity to partner with leading cardiologists to advance the state-of-the-art in caring for heart failure and other challenging cardiovascular conditions.”

Researchers and clinicians anticipate the data will help answer questions around heart failure prediction, diagnosis, prognosis, risk and treatment, and guide physicians as they make decisions related to heart transplants and left ventricular assist devices (pumps for patients who have reached end-stage heart failure).

Future research will tackle the important task of heart failure and disease prediction, to facilitate earlier intervention for those most likely to experience heart failure, and preempt progression and damaging events. Ultimately this would also include informing the specific therapeutic decisions most likely to work for individuals.

At the initiative launch, Bala spoke of Cornell’s Radical Collaboration initiative in AI, and the key areas in which she sees AI – a discipline in which Cornell ranks near the top of U.S. universities – playing a major role in the future.

“We identified health and medicine as one of Cornell’s key impact areas in AI,” she said, “so the timing of this collaboration could not have been more perfect. We are excited for this partnership as we consider high-risk, high-reward, long-term impact in this space.”