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New Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and causal methods in Medicine

State of Lower Saxony and VolkswagenStiftung to fund consortium from the fields of informatics and medicine with around 15 million euros

Improving health care and strengthening personalized medicine: A new research center for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and causal methods in medicine (CAIMed - Lower Saxony Center for Artificial Intelligence and Causal Methods in Medicine) is being established in Lower Saxony. Researchers in computer science and medicine from Hannover, Göttingen and Braunschweig will develop innovative methods and applications of artificial intelligence. The Ministry of Science and Culture and the Volkswagen Foundation are providing 15 million euros from the joint "zukunft.niedersachsen" program for the next five years. Prof Wolfgang Nejdl from the L3S Research Centre at the Leibniz University of Hanover (LUH) will act as spokesperson. Two of the new research groups will be set up at sites of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI).

The digitalization of the life sciences opens up completely new potential for tackling common diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. The Center therefore focuses on linking research data, clinical data and patient care data, the use of artificial intelligence and causal methods in medicine. Causal methods make it possible to investigate the relationship between the cause and effect of a disease. As a result, prevention, diagnosis, therapy and monitoring of treatment success can be made more effective and efficient, and the individual needs of each person can be better identified and met. Researchers will focus on the medical specialties of oncology, cardiovascular and pulmonary medicine, and infectious diseases.

At the Braunschweig Centre for Systems Biology (BRICS), a joint institution of the HZI and the Technische Universität Braunschweig, the junior research group “Mathematical Models in Medicine” will be established as part of CAIMed. The aim is to use mathematical methods to improve the understanding of mechanisms in the life sciences and in the pathogenesis of diseases. “In CAIMed, we will compile, synthesize and make available knowledge from a wide variety of sources. This more complex knowledge will uncover new connections in the life sciences and lead to improved medical care for patients,” says Prof Michael Meyer-Hermann, head of the HZI department “Systems Immunology”, where the new junior research group will be based. In addition, at the Centre for Individualized Infection Medicine (CiiM), a joint initiative of the HZI and Hannover Medical School (MHH), the MHH-assigned junior research group “AI & Bioinformatics” is being established with the participation of the two CiiM directors Prof Yang Li, head of the HZI department “Computational Biology of Individualized Medicine” and Prof Markus Cornberg, deputy director of the MHH Clinic for Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Infectiology and Endocrinology and clinical director of the HZI.

“With CAIMed, the research community in Lower Saxony is consistently pursuing the necessary cross-disciplinary and cross-methodological networking of its research activities and is bringing together the strong life sciences and data sciences expertise in the Hannover-Braunschweig-Göttingen-Wolfsburg metropolitan region. Methods of artificial intelligence and machine learning are to be used here to provide new impetus for modern, increasingly personalized medicine in order to open up new healing perspectives, especially for patients suffering from one of the common diseases,” says Falko Mohrs, Lower Saxony's Minister for Science and Culture.

“If we want to take advantage of the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence, we must master and further develop the technologies. The CAIMed network brings together the expertise of different locations. Together, we can succeed in putting Niedersachsen on the map of KI research and attract talent from all over the world,” says Dr Georg Schütte, General Secretary of the Volkswagen Foundation.

The spokesman of CAIMed, Prof Wolfgang Nejdl (LUH), adds: “At the Lower Saxony Research Center for Artificial Intelligence and Causal Methods in Medicine, we develop innovative methods for improved and personalized healthcare. In doing so, we provide solutions for global challenges. By networking and strengthening the excellent locations in Lower Saxony for methodological KI research, data-intensive medicine, medical informatics and basic medical research, we are creating a unique beacon for research into artificial intelligence and personalized medicine.”

“In addition to the development of artificial intelligence methods, our focus is on their transfer to clinical application. The goal of our research is to use KI to improve decision making and therapy in the treatment of patients. This will significantly increase the performance of our healthcare system in the future,” says Prof Wolfgang Brück, spokesperson for the University Medical Center Göttingen.

The center is supported by scientists of the L3S Research Center, the Hannover Medical School, the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research Braunschweig / Centre for Individualised Infection Medicine (CiiM), the Georg-August-University Göttingen / Campus Institute Data Science (CIDAS) and the University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG).

Further informationen
About the consortium:
  • Prof Wolfgang Nejdl (Managing Director, Forschungszentrum L3S, Leibniz Universität Hannover, spokesman of the CAIMed consortium)
  • Prof Ramin Yahyapour (Managing Director, Campus Institute for Data Science (CIDAS), Georg August University of Göttingen)
  • Prof Niels Grabe (Institute of Pathology, University of Göttingen)
  • Prof Michael Marschollek (Peter L. Reichertz Institute for Medical Informatics of the TU Braunschweig and the Hannover Medical School; Research Center L3S)
  • Prof Michael Meyer-Hermann, Head of the Department “Systems Immunology” at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Braunschweig