Mount Sinai unveils first-of-its-kind department to develop AI tools for healthcare

Many hospitals and health systems talk a big game about integrating artificial intelligence into nearly every aspect of clinical care, but Mount Sinai, for one, is actually putting its money where its mouth is.

The New York City health system this week opened the Department of Artificial Intelligence and Human Health within its Icahn School of Medicine, a new center for AI research and development that it says is the first of its kind to be launched at a U.S. medical school.

The department’s work will span all of Mount Sinai’s clinical segments and research centers, with an aim of developing new decision-support tools driven by machine learning and other forms of AI that will help physicians deliver hyper-personalized care to each patient.

“The overarching goal of the Department for AI and Human Health is to impact patients’ health with AI. We will accomplish this by building AI systems at scale from data representing Mount Sinai’s diverse patient population. These systems will work seamlessly across all hospitals and care units to support physicians, foster research and, most importantly, help patients’ care and well-being,” Thomas Fuchs, dean of the department, said in a statement.

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The center will be situated at the center of a “hub-and-satellite” model: The AI algorithms and tools its scientists develop will be distributed to all physicians across Mount Sinai’s eight hospitals and more than 400 clinics. Those satellites will further benefit from a high-performance computing and data processing infrastructure that will not only boost data access, sharing and analysis across the entire health system but also improve its diagnostic and treatment options in the process.

The AI department’s “intelligent fabric” will spread far beyond Mount Sinai’s clinical facilities. The center will also work closely with the school’s departments dedicated to biostatistics, clinical data science, genomics and genetics, neuroscience, digital health and more.

Several of Mount Sinai’s academic programs will be based within the department, including its recently announced AI and emerging technologies in medicine concentration, or AIET, of the Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences. Other academic pursuits offered through the center include a variety of AI-based courses, lectures, fellowships and a journal club.

Mount Sinai is currently in the process of renovating a facility within the medical school’s main campus where the department will be housed. Expected to be completed in fall 2022, the facility will be equipped to handle advanced data processing and cloud computing needs and will also include dedicated areas for the study of virtual and augmented reality and other AI-driven technologies.

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The health system has already begun its work in integrating AI into healthcare. In addition to spinning out a handful of its own startups developing AI tools for clinical use, Mount Sinai continues to partner with existing developers to try on new technologies for size.

Among these is RenalytixAI, with whom Mount Sinai has been working since 2018. Their original partnership came about with the goal of using the health system’s vast databases of patient information to build AI models that can spot people at risk of kidney disease. Since then, their collaboration has evolved to encompass the development of tools to guide treatment of those patients and, amid the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the formation of a joint venture commercializing a blood test for the virus.