GALVESTON, Texas (KXAN) – The University of Texas Medical Branch said Monday its researchers will study the social and cultural barriers patients face when getting cancer treatment.
According to the UTMB announcement, its researchers along with those from Texas Southern University in Houston got a $1 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to use human-centered artificial intelligence to study those barriers to diagnoses and treatment in the United States.
Many Americans have social and cultural hurdles that prevent them from getting timely cancer diagnoses and effective treatments, the announcement said. It pointed to a lack of transportation preventing women from being regularly screened for breast cancer which can increase the risk of a late cancer diagnosis that can be difficult to treat.
“Such social factors, also called social determinants of health, are well-known but have been difficult to analyze and interpret despite the use of powerful machine learning methods,” said project leader Dr. Suresh Bhavnani, a professor of biomedical informatics at UTMB in the statement.
The school said the project aims to address some of the main hurdles to understanding and dealing with social determinants of health.
The Human-Centered AI approach will use graphical networks to automatically identify complex patterns in large datasets, the school said. The visual approach will allow ethicists, biostatisticians and clinicians to inspect and interpret the results, according to the school.
The research will use data from the All of Us program from the National Institutes of Health which hopes to collect data from one million Americans with a focus on underrepresented populations.
It also involves researchers from Texas Southern, which is a minority-serving institution.