Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, will contribute $10 million to UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences (IHCS) to harness the power of “big data,” to support precision medicine, UCSF News Center reports. Atul Butte, MD, PhD, who leads UCSF’s Institute for Computational Health Sciences has been named the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg Distinguished Professor at UCSF.
IHCS encourages researchers to think of data as a “recyclable” resource and is focused on building tools that can crunch data old and new to find new patterns and insights that ultimately lead to more effective research and to more predictive, preventative, and precise healthcare. Dr. Butte is currently leading efforts to build computational infrastructure to integrate EHRs and other data from the 13.6 million patient records across the five UC medical centers.
“This is among the richest and most diverse medical datasets in the world – much more than just a set of billing codes,” Butte said in a statement. “And, because the data come from our patients, the data are an incredible resource for UC hospitals to improve the quality of care we deliver throughout California.”
The $10M donation from Chan, an alumna of the UCSF School of Medicine, and Zuckerberg will be used to fund faculty recruitment and advance development of UCSF’S Spoke knowledge network that aggregates all types of biological information into an information commons, stratify it into “layers” of distinct data types, and then discern patterns and connections within and between layers. This new knowledge can then be visualized and made accessible to researchers and health practitioners to share new findings, processes and ideas.
The UCSF Memory and Aging Center is currently using the knowledge network as its core technology for a precision medicine pilot project called KNECT. KNECT, a new data management and computational platform provides new data-driven analyses of brain function in patients with neurodegenerative conditions by combining datasets gathered on one group of patients by researchers of different disciplines. Through an analytics dashboard, clinicians from different fields can upload and analyze diverse data sets for insights to discuss with their patients.
“We are enormously grateful to Priscilla and Mark for their visionary gift supporting the work of Atul Butte, one of the world’s leading physician-scientists working at the frontier of big data,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood, MBBS in a statement. “His leadership of the Institute for Computational Health Sciences is helping UCSF researchers, health care providers and the UC Health system as a whole to drive progress in the new world of data-driven medicine and science. We expect this to transform health, at the level of individuals and communities.”