University of Melbourne to lead new ARC Training Centre in Cognitive Computing for Medical Technologies

By Greta Harrison

The University of Melbourne will partner with IBM Research to launch a new Training Centre in Cognitive Computing for Medical Technologies thanks to $4.1m in funding from the Australian Research Council.

The Centre will be headed up by Professor Tim Baldwin from the Department of Computing and Information Systems, and will train PhD and Postdoctoral researchers to lead innovation in the application of machine learning to data intensive medical contexts. The long term aim of the centre will be to foster entrepreneurship and further expertise in the applications of AI in clinical settings.

Working across three main research areas, the centre will train future researchers in how machine learning and deep learning can enable medical technology, by analyzing and combining across large volumes of disparate data.

The four key areas of research that the new centre will be focusing on are: epileptic seizure prediction; brain machine interfaces for prosthetics; the prediction of the age of onset of Alzheimer’s and rate of cognitive decline; and intelligent search tools for clinicians.

Director of the new Training Centre, Professor Baldwin welcomed the news.

“The centre represents a unique opportunity to bring together world-class research groups from IBM Research and The University of Melbourne and partner universities, to work on high-impact clinical problems, and foster the next generation of clinically-conversant AI researchers locally within Australia,” he said.

Joanna Batstone, Vice President and Lab Director of IBM Research, Australia said IBM believes that the next era of computing will be based on Cognitive Computing; systems that learn at scale, reason with purpose and interact with humans naturally.

“The explosion of heterogeneous data generated from medical devices, coupled with vast volumes of medical publications is driving the need to provide new artificial intelligence technologies that will fulfill the promise of evidence driven, personalised and precision medicine,” she said.

The University of Melbourne has been awarded $10.5 million over five years by the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Industrial Transformation Training Centres scheme to establish three new training centres in total.

Professor James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) said the centres would secure Australian industry’s competitive advantage, increase local employment, boost exports and meet the need for work-ready graduates who have skills aligned with industry requirements.

“Through these programs, we will train emerging industry professionals and enable industry with world leading research capacity in the medical technologies and pharmaceuticals and advanced manufacturing sectors,” Professor McCluskey said.