Su­per­com­puter Wat­son to help fight can­cer in China

China Daily (USA) - - ACROSS AMERICA - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

The US su­per­com­puter Wat­son is about to team up with health­care pro­fes­sion­als in China in the bat­tle against can­cer.

IBM an­nounced on Thurs­day that 21 hos­pi­tals across China will adopt Wat­son for On­col­ogy, a cog­ni­tive com­put­ing plat­form for physi­cians to help them de­liver per­son­al­ized can­cer treat­ment op­tions to pa­tients.

Wat­son is de­signed “to trans­late big data into big in­sights for on­col­o­gists”, Dr. Kyu Rhee, chief health of­fi­cer for IBM, said in an in­ter­view. “By de­moc­ra­tiz­ing ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion, Wat­son will en­able on­col­o­gists to fo­cus on their re­la­tion­ship with the pa­tient.”

Rhee said Wat­son will be able to take a pa­tient’s med­i­cal his­tory and scan thou­sands of med­i­cal jour­nals for in­for­ma­tion re­lated to the pa­tient’s can­cer and the lat­est drug tri­als to de­velop a per­son­al­ized treat­ment plan.

“Wat­son’s treat­ment plan is a rec­om­men­da­tion, and the on­col­o­gist in con­sul­ta­tion with the pa­tient has the fi­nal say on what strat­egy to pur­sue,” Rhee said.

Can­cer is the lead­ing cause of death among China’s pop­u­la­tion of 1.4 bil­lion. In 2015 alone there were 4.3 mil­lion new can­cer cases and more than 2.8 mil­lion can­cer deaths in China.

There are 12,000 can­cer cases di­ag­nosed ev­ery day in China, ac­cord­ing to the med­i­cal jour­nal CA: Can­cer J for Clin. “That com­pares to about 4,500 a day in the US,” added Rhee.

The ini­tial hos­pi­tal in­tro­duc­tion is part of a mul­ti­year part­ner­ship for IBM and Bei­jing-based Hangzhou Cog­ni­tiveCare to in­tro­duce Wat­son for On­col­ogy in China. Hos­pi­tals in­volved in the ini­tial phase in­clude SUN YAT SEN Uni­ver­sity Can­cer Cen­ter, the Fourth Af­fil­i­ated Hos­pi­tal of China Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity, Wuxi Peo­ple Hos­pi­tal, and Zhe­jiang Pro­vin­cial Hos­pi­tal of Chi­nese Medicine, and in­cludes both ur­ban and ru­ral facilities, ac­cord­ing to Rhee.

Wat­son for On­col­ogy will ini­tially be avail­able in English only. How­ever, Hangzhou Cog­ni­tiveCare will pro­vide some trans­la­tion sup­port to en­sure Wat­son’s treat­ment in­sights such as drug la­bels and treat­ment guide­lines also are avail­able in Man­darin.

Wat­son for On­col­ogy was de­vel­oped by IBM in col­lab­o­ra­tion with New York’s Me­mo­rial Sloan Ket­ter­ing Can­cer Cen­ter. “It is also be­ing used in hos­pi­tals in In­dia and Thai­land,” Rhee said.

Wat­son is part of what is called cog­ni­tive com­put­ing or the sim­u­la­tion of hu­man thought in a com­put­er­ized model. Wat­son is a su­per­com­puter de­vel­oped by IBM to be one of the world’s most ad­vanced ques­tion-an­swer­ing ma­chines, able to un­der­stand a ques­tion posed in hu­man “nat­u­ral lan­guage” and re­spond with a fac­tual an­swer.

Wat­son first gained at­ten­tion in 2011 when it won a com­pe­ti­tion on the US tele­vi­sion show Jeop­ardy! by best­ing hu­man com­peti­tors.

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