A revolution in healthcare began to take shape on a sunny North Bethesda rooftop when the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership: MPowering the State (Power) announced a transformative partnership to establish the University of Maryland 3 – Institute for Health Computing (UM-3-IHC). The new era of data-driven biomedical innovation is led by the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), in collaboration with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS ) and Montgomery County, Md.
Calling the Institute, “A Big Deal”, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland Jay A. Perman, MD, declared the biomedical triumvirate of UMB’s top-ranked health science professional schools; College Park’s leading expertise in artificial intelligence, virtual reality and machine learning; and the UMMS, which serves more than 5 million patients, all linked by electronic health records, is an indication of great things on the horizon in healthcare innovation.
The Institute “brings together the deep expertise of the University of Maryland in advanced computing and the equally deep expertise of UMB and UMMS in human health,” Perman said. “When you combine the first – advanced computing – with the second – our health – it’s a wonderful thing.”
The transformative partnership will make North Bethesda a national epicenter for computer-assisted biomedical research, population health and precision medicine. Big data combined with cutting-edge analytical approaches has the potential to dramatically improve medical outcomes and population health.
The Institute will leverage recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and computer science to create a leading learning healthcare system that assesses both anonymized and secure digitized health data to diagnose, prevent and treat disease in patients in the State of Maryland.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented revolution in healthcare that is driven by biomedical innovation, digitization of medical records and advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence,” said the president of the UMB. Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS, in a press release. “This new Institute will include all of these elements in a synergistic effect that will transform our healthcare system.
The new institute will integrate technologies, including the use of machine learning algorithms, to study emerging diseases and help establish precision patient care to halt disease progression. For example, poorly controlled diabetes, high blood pressure, risk of opioid overdose, and early kidney disease can be identified by trend changes in laboratory tests in outpatients, allowing targeted interventions to prevent disease progression. Such efforts will lead to improved care for the patient, yielding better diagnoses and treatments tailored to an individual’s unique health needs.
The excitement in the air was palpable as stakeholders including university presidents, administrators and legislators shared the success of closing the deal with a memorandum of understanding and an outline of the future of health care.
University of Maryland President Darryl Pines, PhD, MS, reminded the rooftop gathering of the “transformative leap” in medicine achieved by human genome sequencing at the National Institutes of Health 20 years ago. “It happened here in Montgomery County,” Pines said.
“We are now at the dawn of another powerful revolution in medicine,” he continued. “We will leverage our internationally recognized expertise in artificial intelligence, visual computing, and augmented and virtual reality programs. When we apply these strengths to medicine, we create an opportunity to revolutionize patient care and improve the health and well-being of all.
Jarrell called the collaboration between UMB, College Park and UMMS the A team. “How are we going to come together? ” He asked. “We fit together like this,” he said, raising his intertwined fingers so the crowd could see him. “There are so many complementary pieces that fit together and that’s what makes us an A team.”
Mohan Suntha, MD, MBAPresident and CEO of UMMS expressed pride in the partnership that the system’s 12 affiliated hospitals have within the University Health System.
“As we provide care today, we take responsibility for educating future healthcare workers,” he said. “We do this through a partnership and so when I look around today, I’m incredibly excited about the partners sitting down together to make this announcement,” he continued.
The Institute will catalyze a clinical data science ecosystem at North Bethesda that attracts FDA and NIH investigators, UMB and UMCP faculty, educational programs and medical bioinformatics students, and partners from industry, enabling the expansion of “dry” computer labs, virtual meeting rooms and classrooms.
The Institute is expected to open in leased space in early 2023, with final completion of labs and offices at the North Bethesda Metro site in 2028. Initial funding of $25 million is provided by MPower. The Montgomery County government will provide an additional $40 million to develop the North Bethesda site.
“When I think of the opportunity before all of us, I want you to imagine that in the very near future, the nation will describe Montgomery County as the Silicon Valley of health IT,” Suntha said. .
Montgomery County Executive Mark Elrich agreed, saying he looks forward to the economic development the Institute will bring to North Bethesda and the state. “It’s going to be good for the state of Maryland. It’s going to be good for the people of Maryland. This will stimulate business growth and development, which is of interest to all of us,” he said.
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