IBM Announces Service To Speed Up Clinical Research Using Watson

September 2, 2014 in News

On Thursday, IBM announced a new software service powered by its Watson supercomputer and designed to accelerate the process of clinical and academic research, Modern Healthcare reports (Tahir, Modern Healthcare, 8/28).

Background on Watson Supercomputer

To enhance Watson’s medical knowledge, IBM researchers have partnered with such health care organizations as:

  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles;
  • The Cleveland Clinic;
  • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York; and
  • WellPoint.

As of May 2013, Watson contained information from more than:

  • 600,000 pieces of medical evidence; and
  • Two million pages of text from 42 medical journals and clinical trials on oncology (iHealthBeat, 1/10).

Details of New Software Service

The new cloud-based service, called Watson Discovery Advisor, can interpret the medical papers and make connections that researchers might have missed. Specifically, the application:

  • Reviews research; and
  • Suggests next steps to researchers.

The WDA software service visualizes the data in graphs to help researchers understand its findings (Keating, Tech Times, 8/28).

For example, Baylor College of Medicine researchers recently created an app that used the WDA technology to sort through 23 million research papers to help determine where they should look for new cancer research. The WDA app identified nine proteins that should be further investigated, of which seven had been discovered by 2013.

Olivier Lichtarge, professor of molecular and human genetics at Baylor, said the app “doesn’t tell the scientist what to do,” but “it suggests possibility” (Saporito, Time, 8/28).

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