Researchers at IBM Australia will play a role in creating a “cognitive assistant” which the computer giant hopes will help ophthalmologists diagnose eye conditions from medical image data.
The company has recruited a batch of research interns to bring their expertise to the project through IBM Australia’s research lab in Melbourne. The interns were to start work last month.
“IBM Research is building the next-generation cognitive assistant with advanced multimedia capability for the early detection and management of diseases that can affect both a person’s eyes and overall health,” the company said in a ad now closed.
“We are building the image-guided computer system that acts as a filter to extract the essential clinical information ophthalmologists need to know about a patient for diagnosis and treatment planning.
“This filtering uses sophisticated medical image processing, pattern recognition and machine learning techniques guided by advanced clinical knowledge. It also uses feature extraction and cognitive methods to automatically segment pathologies, classify image content, and retrieve similar patient cases based on image characteristics.
Full-time and part-time trainees would apply their clinical knowledge to analyze retinal image data and come up with “new ideas and ideas for cognition on this type of data.”
The paid interns “will build a clinical database on diseases of the retina … and help senior physicians participate in building the image representation database,” IBM said.
The eye health project was first revealed in June as part of a larger global campaign by IBM to find health applications for its Watson cognitive computing technology.
At the time, IBM said the project would pursue “an evidence-based clinical decision support system for ophthalmologists and optometrists.”
He envisioned an online tool that could be deployed by eye clinics to boost early detection among demographic groups at risk for eye problems, such as people with diabetes or those with pre-diabetes.
No Australian involvement was reported in the original announcement. Instead, IBM unveiled 15 partners who would work on a variety of projects connecting Watson to healthcare through medical imaging analysis, but none were based in Australia.
IBM recently refocused much of the discussion around its Watson technology on healthcare.
In June, IBM Australia revealed agreements with organizations including the Melanoma Institute Australia to “apply cognitive computing to dermatological images” in the hope of detecting and identifying skin cancer earlier.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Watson had correctly diagnosed a rare form of leukemia in a Japanese patient after doctors were unable to determine the cause of the woman’s health problems.