The hub will bring together academia, industry, healthcare, and policymakers from across the UK and internationally

Experts from leading universities across the UK have joined forces to develop new ways of using artificial intelligence to transform medicine and improve healthcare.

The research will show how AI can be used in better ways to analyse cause and effect to transform challenging tasks such as early prediction, diagnosis and prevention of disease.

The CHAI – EPSRC AI Hub for Causality in Healthcare AI with Real Data is a partnership between academics at AI, data science and healthcare powerhouses the University of Edinburgh, University College London, the University of Manchester, Imperial College London, King’s College London and the University of Exeter.

The hub will bring together academia, industry, healthcare, and policymakers from across the UK and internationally to push the boundaries of AI innovation, co-develop cutting-edge solutions that improve efficiency in healthcare and cement the UK’s standing as an AI superpower.

The project is funded by the European Research Council, UK Research and Innovation, the EPSRC, the Alan Turing Institute, the Royal Academy of Engineering and the National Institute for Health Research.

Researchers will use data such as images and clinical information to support policies and methods of prediction and modelling risks and uncertainty in order to prevent bias, inequality and unfairness in healthcare systems.

The CHAI Hub will be based in The University of Edinburgh with regional spokes in Manchester, London, and Exeter. Researchers will engage with industry, policy makers and patient groups.

At the University of Exeter experts involved in CHAI are based at the Data Studies Group of the Exeter Centre for the Study of Life Sciences (Egenis) – where researchers lead on the philosophy of causal inference, the ethics of AI and public engagement in the design of new technologies – and the Institute for Data Science & AI.

Professor Sabina Leonelli, from the University of Exeter, said: “Current models of using AI may pick up unwanted, spurious correlations from historic data, resulting in the widening of already existing health inequalities. As part of this project we will promote the use of causal AI to unlock robust, responsible and trustworthy AI.

“Those in academia, industry, healthcare, and policy will work together with patient groups to co-create the next-generation of world-leading artificial intelligence solutions that can predict outcomes of interventions and help choose personalised treatments, thus transforming health and healthcare.

“The Hub will push the boundaries of AI innovation; develop cutting-edge solutions that drive desperately needed efficiency in resource-constrained healthcare systems; and cement the UK’s standing as a next-gen AI superpower.”

Modern clinical investigations need to mix structured and unstructured data sources, such as patient health records, and medical imaging exams, which current AI cannot integrate reliably. Those involved in CHAI believe these gaps in current AI technology must be addressed to develop procedures that can help to better understand disease mechanisms, predict outcomes and estimate the effects of treatments. This will ensure the safe and responsible use of AI in personalised decision making.