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Aussie researchers get $300,000 in funding to develop new AI health tech

04 Aug 2021
Aussie researchers get $300,000 in funding to develop new AI health tech News image

Breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI), supplemented by modern technology, are set to revolutionise Australian healthcare, providing tangible benefits to even our most remote regions.

These advances are typified by the work of two Australian researchers who are developing medical AI software that holds the potential to dramatically improve the health and livelihood of Australians, including those living in remote and rural areas.

Two Australian researchers have collectively been awarded over $300,000 to develop AI technologies that address hearing and balance difficulties, especially for those living in remote Australian areas.

The Passe and Williams Foundation has provided the funds to Dr Al-Rahim Habib and Dr Allison Young who are developing ground breaking software which they say can “transform people’s lives.

"Artificial intelligence is an exciting part of this work, developing emerging technologies that have potential to help more Australians than ever before,” says Science & Technology Australia CEO Misha Schubert.

“It’s always great to see technological developments to improve health, safety and wellbeing – and to see research in pursuit of those goals supported with funding.”

Public health emergency

Dr Habib was awarded $109,342 by the Foundation to continue developing an app that holds potential to reduce the prevalence of ear disease among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, while Dr Young was awarded a fellowship worth $191,000 to further develop a “virtual expert” tool to diagnose vestibular disorders (like vertigo).

Dr Habib’s app looks to solve what the World Health Organisation has declared a “public health emergency”.

Operated on a smartphone with minimal training, will provide healthcare workers in remote communities the ability to diagnose and treat ear disease in children, preventing a potential lifelong cycle of related issues such as poor educational achievement, unemployment and consequently, later in life, greater risk of encounters with the criminal justice system.

Dr Allison Young’s diagnostic tool is intended to be used in otolaryngology or neurology outpatient clinics, hospital emergency rooms and general practice. It will allow diagnosis of vestibular disorders through a simple eye examination for abnormal eye-movements, alongside the results of inner-ear balance tests.

"These emerging medical technologies that allow the automation of complex but mundane tasks, thereby improving specialists' productivity, illuminate the "game-changing" potential held by AI,” said Dr Narinder Singh, Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and head of the Otolaryngology Department at Sydney's Westmead Hospital.

Dr Jeanette Pritchard, CEO of the Passe and Williams Foundation, said: “Healthcare access for all members of our community, regardless of location, should be of great importance. Medical AI could provide elegant solutions to many longstanding problems.” 

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