£16m grant awarded to the AI Centre to grow NHS AI capabilities

A grant from the Office for Life Sciences will enable the London Medical Imaging and AI Centre for Value Based Healthcare’s programme on artificial intelligence research within the NHS to provide innovative and accessible healthcare solutions.

AI Centre logoKing's Health Partners is part of the London Medical Imaging and AI Centre for Value Based Healthcare, funded by UK Research and Innovation.

The Centre brings together academic, NHS and industry partners to train algorithms - a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, like a computer – using NHS medical images to create new healthcare tools. For patients, these will provide faster diagnosis, personalised therapies and effective screening across a range of conditions and procedures. The Centre has been awarded a £16 million Department of Health and Social Care grant by the Office for Life Sciences to enable its programme of artificial intelligence research within the NHS, to provide more innovative and accessible healthcare solutions to the public.

The grant is part of a £50 million UK Government funding boost which will scale up the work of existing Digital Pathology and Imaging Artificial Intelligence Centres of Excellence established last year to develop products to improve early diagnosis of disease. The funding aims to support the COVID-19 long-term response and is part of Government commitment to detect three quarters of cancers at an early stage by 2028.

Matt Hancock, Health and Social Care Secretary, said:

Technology is a force for good in our fight against the deadliest diseases – it can transform and save lives through faster diagnosis, free up clinicians to spend time with their patients and make every pound in the NHS go further.

Director of Research at King’s Health Partners and the Centre’s Director, Prof Reza Razavi, commented on how the grant facilitates the Centre’s use of data and clinical research expertise:

The AI Centre can continue its mission to spearhead innovations in AI-driven healthcare that will have significant impact on the clinical, research and broader community. Artificial intelligence technology provides significant opportunities to improve diagnostics and therapies as well as reduce administrative costs.
With machine learning, we can use existing data to help clinicians better predict when disease will occur, diagnosing and treating it earlier, and personalising treatments, which will be less resource intensive and provides better health outcomes for our patients.

The AI Centre will install IT to run multiple machine learning algorithms - mathematical models based on sample data, known as "training data", that make predictions or decisions without being explicitly programmed to do so - at once.  This aims to enhance clinical equipment for day-to-day patient care. The Centre will also use the funding to develop AI-enabled MRI and ultrasound machines, which will improve the speed, accuracy and reliability of imaging interpretation and diagnosis.

Ian Abbs, CEO at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, said:

This additional funding to support AI driven service transformation is hugely welcome as we know that this will be one of the most exciting areas of healthcare innovation in the next few years.
AI technology has already shown its potential to improve care for our patients, and to drive safety and efficiency. It will support our clinicians to deliver the best possible diagnosis and treatment based on accumulated learning that is beyond that of even the most experienced clinician.

Beverley Bryant, Chief Digital Information Officer at Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts, said:

We are looking forward to building new interoperability federated learning and artificial intelligence deployment platforms that will enable transformation of clinical diagnosis and treatments.
This grant will allow technologists, clinicians and data scientists to work together on innovative solutions for the NHS.

The grant also facilitates the AI Centre’s network expansion from four NHS Foundation Trusts to 11, including Brighton & Sussex University, East Kent Hospitals University, Imperial College Healthcare, Lewisham and Greenwich, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells, Royal Brompton & Harefield and University College London.

New partnerships have also commenced with University College London, and major industry collaborators, including GE Healthcare and NetApp.

Geraint Rees, Pro-Vice-Provost (AI) and Dean of the Faculty of Life Sciences at University College London, said that collaboration is vital to developing the AI solutions that benefit the widest possible range of patients, as no hospital or university can on its own collect the data required.

We are proud to partner with the AI Centre and bring our world leading expertise to bear in creating safe and secure AI-enabled healthcare systems that benefit citizens and patients across the UK.

A consortium of academic, NHS and industry partners, the AI Centre is the digital health powerhouse within the St Thomas’ MedTech Hub, a major joint initiative between King’s School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, which aims to translate healthcare engineering research into medical products quickly and effectively.

Sebastien Ourselin, Head of the King’s School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences, said:

The additional funding will enable the AI Centre to accelerate the development and testing of novel AI products for clinical use, at scale, while increasing collaborative ventures for our partners and benefiting from the strong research infrastructure within the MedTech Hub.

Like this article? Read our article on the benefits of AI in our hospitals.