The Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kenya has secured a $750,000 (Sh112.2m) research grant from the US-based National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in overcoming barriers in specialised training required for diagnosing and predicting outcomes in cases of colorectal cancer in Africa.
According to AKU, the research initiative will be led by an interdisciplinary team of oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, statisticians, and informaticians drawn from the institution and from the Center for Global Health Equity (CGHE) at the University of Michigan.
Other professionals will come from Tenwek Hospital, a community-based health facility in Bomet, Kenya.
Reacting to the development, AKU said the funding marks a significant milestone in the efforts to enhance and fortify the healthcare system in Kenya through quality research and human capacity strengthening.
“Colorectal cancer is a significant public health concern across Africa, where specialised training and access to advanced diagnostic technologies have posed substantial barriers to early diagnosis and effective treatment,” said AKU in a statement.
“This grant from NIH will enable Aga Khan University, supported by CGHE, to investigate the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve the speed and accuracy of colorectal cancer diagnosis.”
The new project builds on the ongoing collaborative research efforts between AKU and CGHE, which include among others the deployment of a research hub to assess the utilisation of health information for meaningful impact in East Africa through Data Science.
The hub aims to create a scalable and sustainable platform to apply novel approaches to data assimilation and AI-based solutions to serve as early warning systems to improve health outcomes in Africa.