AXA Research Fund opened a flash call last April for funding of projects that contribute to the mitigation of the risk of the Covid-19 pandemic. Two of the 10 projects selected in this international call have been promoted by Spanish institutions; one by the ISGlobal Barcelona Institute for Global Health and the other by the Basque Center for Applied Mathematics – BCAM. Among the selected proposals are some projects from the prestigious universities of Cornell, Melbourne or Washington.
Specifically, the project led by Santiago Mazuelas, Ramón y Cajal researcher at BCAM and Ikerbasque, has a budget of 228,000 euros and a duration of 3 years. It aims to predict the future severity of a person infected by COVID-19 using machine learning techniques.
The recent outbreak of coronavirus has exhibited infections that result in particularly distinct outcomes; while some patients remain asymptomatic during the infection, others experience moderate symptoms for some weeks, and others suffer acute or even critical complications. This fact poses a key challenge for COVID-19 containment since the most pertinent countermeasures at the time of infection’s detection are markedly different for each type of patients described above.
The project led by Dr Mazuelas will develop machine learning techniques for early prognosis of the severity of COVID-19 infections using health data obtained at the time of detection. The techniques developed will use multimodal, information-rich health data to predict future severity of these infections.
The learning techniques developed in the project will consider a large number of electronic health records to determine the complex relationship between instances of health data and future severity of infections. In this regard, the project will address several scientific and technical challenges for both data processing and the design of learning algorithms, including the development of techniques that maintain patient privacy.
The results of this project may lead to significant improvements in the way medical and public health decisions are made to treat and manage COVID-19 infections.
The achievement of this international grant reinforces the position of BCAM in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As a research center on Applied Mathematics and in line with its social commitment and expertise in artificial intelligence, BCAM will continue contributing to the fight against the disease, to the recovery process and to minimize possible future impacts by focusing its fundamental research capabilities.
About the AXA Research Fund
AXA’s scientific philanthropy initiative was born in 2007 in the belief that science has a crucial role to play in addressing the most important issues facing our planet. Since its inception, the fund has invested €250 million and supported more than 650 research projects in the areas of health, environment, new technologies and social economy. Around 300 academic institutions in 36 countries have already benefited from its support.