April 29, 2022
As the Data and Research Core lead for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) AIM-AHEAD program—an artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) consortium to advance health equity and researcher diversity—OCHIN is proud to support a new AIM-AHEAD Research Fellowship Program. Launched during National Minority Health Month, the program is accepting proposals through June 12*.
Anisha Abdul-Ali, D.N.P., M.P.H., B.S.N., R.N., Vice President of Data and Population Health at OCHIN who co-directs the program, answered a few questions about the new fellowship and how it supports the broader goals of the $50 million NIH AIM-AHEAD initiative announced last year.
Q: What is the goal of the NIH AIM-AHEAD program?
Under the overall leadership of the University of North Texas Health Science Center, the goals of the AIM-AHEAD program are to advance health equity, in part, by expanding researcher diversity in the field of health care AI/ML. Taking steps to diversify the research workforce is critical to ensuring that the future of health care innovation is representative and inclusive. OCHIN is really proud to support this NIH-funded research fellowship to cultivate new ideas and foster emerging talent.
Q: Why was OCHIN selected to lead the AIM-AHEAD Data and Research Core and how is OCHIN collaborating to support the program’s goals to drive health equity through artificial intelligence/machine learning?
Through a rigorous application review process, OCHIN was chosen to lead the AIM-AHEAD Data and Research Core based on our extensive experience curating research-ready data from the largest community health data network in the country. Technology can (and should) drive health care innovation, but like other advanced technology, AI/ML solutions must represent the unique needs and experiences of systemically underrepresented and marginalized communities in order for that innovation to be experienced equitably and for unintended harms to be avoided.
To increase representation for underserved communities, OCHIN supports AIM-AHEAD by leveraging the existing partnerships, data, research, and engagement infrastructure of the ADVANCE Clinical Research Network (ADVANCE), which OCHIN leads with funding from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).
ADVANCE oversees an expansive data warehouse representing more than 7.8 million people, including data from 184 health systems with more than 1,700 clinic sites in 31 states. This rich infrastructure for data, research, and engagement uniquely positions OCHIN to help monitor bias and health inequities throughout the full process of developing health care AI/ML applications, which we’re eager to explore with our Core partners at the Morehouse School of Medicine; University of California, Irvine’s Program in Public Health; Duke Institute for Health Innovation; North Carolina Central University, and others.
Q: What type of opportunities does the new research fellowship, co-directed by OCHIN, create for early-career researchers? Who qualifies to apply?
Even with the advantage of AI/ML, we cannot effectively address national health inequities without engaging a more diverse range of experiences and perspectives in the research and development process. AIM-AHEAD is committed to enhancing researcher diversity and this fellowship is important because it provides support for the next generation of researchers—building a more inclusive talent pipeline for the future, while advancing health disparities research today.
Fellows will have the opportunity to work with nationally renowned experts, while receiving a stipend and mentorship for novel AI/ML data science research to address health disparities and catalyze equitable health care innovation. Graduate students, postdoctoral candidates, junior faculty, and other early-career researchers are encouraged to submit a research proposal for consideration.
Q: Why is an initiative like AIM-AHEAD, and the research fellowship, so important in helping to address health inequity?
The more than twenty organizations working together on AIM-AHEAD share a common goal: addressing health disparities by increasing representation in the AI/ML research field. By expanding opportunities for professional development and building community engagement in the design of health care AI/ML, we can help ensure this emerging technology is used responsibly and effectively—to close health disparities, rather than widen them.
Additionally, OCHIN looks forward to sharing what we learn through our engagement with AIM-AHEAD with the rest of our network, helping all our members take advantage of AI/ML innovations to advance health equity in their communities.
Q: Where can interested individuals or organizations go to learn more?
Those interested in applying should visit the AIM-AHEAD Research Fellows website. In addition to general information about the program and qualifications, the website also provides the opportunity to register for a virtual preparation workshop on May 3, which will help applicants understand and prepare for the submission process from start-to-finish.
*The deadline for proposals has been extended from May 22 to June12.