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Health & Bioscience

Research in health and biomedical sciences has a unique potential to improve peoples’ lives, and includes work ranging from basic science that aims to understand biology, to diagnosing individuals’ diseases, to epidemiological studies of whole populations. We recognize that our strengths in machine learning, large-scale computing, and human-computer interaction can help accelerate the progress of research in this space. By collaborating with world-class institutions and researchers and engaging in both early-stage research and late-stage work, we hope to help people live healthier, longer, and more productive lives.

Recent Publications

Mindful Breathing as an Effective Technique in the Management of Hypertension
Aravind Natarajan
Hulya Emir-Farinas
Hao-Wei Su
Frontiers in Physiology, vol. N/A (2024), N/A
Preview abstract Introduction: Hypertension is one of the most important, modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The popularity of wearable devices provides an opportunity to test whether device guided slow mindful breathing may serve as a non-pharmacological treatment in the management of hypertension. Methods: Fitbit Versa-3 and Sense devices were used for this study. In addition, participants were required to own an FDA or Health Canada approved blood pressure measuring device. Advertisements were shown to 655,910 Fitbit users, of which 7,365 individuals expressed interest and filled out the initial survey. A total of 1,918 participants entered their blood pressure readings on at least 1 day and were considered enrolled in the study. Participants were instructed to download a guided mindful breathing app on their smartwatch device, and to engage with the app once a day prior to sleep. Participants measured their systolic and diastolic blood pressure prior to starting each mindful breathing session, and again after completion. All measurements were self reported. Participants were located in the United States or Canada. Results: Values of systolic and diastolic blood pressure were reduced following mindful breathing. There was also a decrease in resting systolic and diastolic measurements when measured over several days. For participants with a systolic pressure ≥ 130 mmHg, there was a decrease of 9.7 mmHg following 15 min of mindful breathing at 6 breaths per minute. When measured over several days, the resting systolic pressure decreased by an average of 4.3 mmHg. Discussion: Mindful breathing for 15 min a day, at a rate of 6 breaths per minute is effective in lowering blood pressure, and has both an immediate, and a short term effect (over several days). This large scale study demonstrates that device guided mindful breathing with a consumer wearable for 15 min a day is effective in lowering blood pressure, and a helpful complement to the standard of care. View details
Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare: A Perspective from Google
Lily Peng
Lisa Lehmann
Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare, Elsevier (2024)
Preview abstract Artificial Intelligence (AI) holds the promise of transforming healthcare by improving patient outcomes, increasing accessibility and efficiency, and decreasing the cost of care. Realizing this vision of a healthier world for everyone everywhere requires partnerships and trust between healthcare systems, clinicians, payers, technology companies, pharmaceutical companies, and governments to drive innovations in machine learning and artificial intelligence to patients. Google is one example of a technology company that is partnering with healthcare systems, clinicians, and researchers to develop technology solutions that will directly improve the lives of patients. In this chapter we share landmark trials of the use of AI in healthcare. We also describe the application of our novel system of organizing information to unify data in electronic health records (EHRs) and bring an integrated view of patient records to clinicians. We discuss our consumer focused innovation in dermatology to help guide search journeys for personalized information about skin conditions. Finally, we share a perspective on how to embed ethics and a concern for all patients into the development of AI. View details
Enhancing molecular selectivity using Wasserstein distance based reweighing
Pratik Worah
TBD (likely arxiv, PMLR or PNAS) (2024)
Preview abstract Given a training data-set $\mathcal{S}$, and a reference data-set $\mathcal{T}$, we design a simple and efficient algorithm to reweigh the loss function such that the limiting distribution of the neural network weights that result from training on $\mathcal{S}$ approaches the limiting distribution that would have resulted by training on $\mathcal{T}$. Such reweighing can be used to correct for Train-Test distribution shift, when we don't have access to the labels of $\mathcal{T}$. It can also be used to perform (soft) multi-criteria optimization on neural nets, when we have access to the labels of $\mathcal{T}$, but $\mathcal{S}$ and $\mathcal{T}$ have few common points. As a motivating application, we train a graph neural net to recognize small molecule binders to MNK2 (a MAP Kinase, responsible for cell signaling) which are non-binders to MNK1 (a very similar protein), even in the absence of training data common to both data-sets. We are able to tune the reweighing parameters so that overall change in holdout loss is negligible, but the selectivity, i.e., the fraction of top 100 MNK2 binders that are MNK1 non-binders, increases from 54\% to 95\%, as a result of our reweighing. We expect the algorithm to be applicable in other settings as well, since we prove that when the metric entropy of the input data-sets is bounded, our random sampling based greedy algorithm outputs a close to optimal reweighing, i.e., the two invariant distributions of network weights will be provably close in total variation distance. View details
An intentional approach to managing bias in embedding models
Atilla P. Kiraly
Alexander D'Amour
Jungyeon Park
Rory Pilgrim
Charles Lau
Heather Cole-Lewis
Shravya Shetty
Krish Eswaran
Leo Anthony Celi
The Lancet Digital Health, vol. 6 (2024), E126-E130
Preview abstract Advances in machine learning for health care have brought concerns about bias from the research community; specifically, the introduction, perpetuation, or exacerbation of care disparities. Reinforcing these concerns is the finding that medical images often reveal signals about sensitive attributes in ways that are hard to pinpoint by both algorithms and people. This finding raises a question about how to best design general purpose pretrained embeddings (GPPEs, defined as embeddings meant to support a broad array of use cases) for building downstream models that are free from particular types of bias. The downstream model should be carefully evaluated for bias, and audited and improved as appropriate. However, in our view, well intentioned attempts to prevent the upstream components—GPPEs—from learning sensitive attributes can have unintended consequences on the downstream models. Despite producing a veneer of technical neutrality, the resultant end-to-end system might still be biased or poorly performing. We present reasons, by building on previously published data, to support the reasoning that GPPEs should ideally contain as much information as the original data contain, and highlight the perils of trying to remove sensitive attributes from a GPPE. We also emphasise that downstream prediction models trained for specific tasks and settings, whether developed using GPPEs or not, should be carefully designed and evaluated to avoid bias that makes models vulnerable to issues such as distributional shift. These evaluations should be done by a diverse team, including social scientists, on a diverse cohort representing the full breadth of the patient population for which the final model is intended. View details
Preview abstract Importance: Interest in artificial intelligence (AI) has reached an all-time high, and health care leaders across the ecosystem are faced with questions about where, when, and how to deploy AI and how to understand its risks, problems, and possibilities. Observations: While AI as a concept has existed since the 1950s, all AI is not the same. Capabilities and risks of various kinds of AI differ markedly, and on examination 3 epochs of AI emerge. AI 1.0 includes symbolic AI, which attempts to encode human knowledge into computational rules, as well as probabilistic models. The era of AI 2.0 began with deep learning, in which models learn from examples labeled with ground truth. This era brought about many advances both in people’s daily lives and in health care. Deep learning models are task-specific, meaning they do one thing at a time, and they primarily focus on classification and prediction. AI 3.0 is the era of foundation models and generative AI. Models in AI 3.0 have fundamentally new (and potentially transformative) capabilities, as well as new kinds of risks, such as hallucinations. These models can do many different kinds of tasks without being retrained on a new dataset. For example, a simple text instruction will change the model’s behavior. Prompts such as “Write this note for a specialist consultant” and “Write this note for the patient’s mother” will produce markedly different content. Conclusions and Relevance: Foundation models and generative AI represent a major revolution in AI’s capabilities, ffering tremendous potential to improve care. Health care leaders are making decisions about AI today. While any heuristic omits details and loses nuance, the framework of AI 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0 may be helpful to decision-makers because each epoch has fundamentally different capabilities and risks. View details
Towards Generalist Biomedical AI
Danny Driess
Mike Schaekermann
Andrew Carroll
Chuck Lau
Ryutaro Tanno
Ira Ktena
Anil Palepu
Basil Mustafa
Aakanksha Chowdhery
Simon Kornblith
Philip Mansfield
Sushant Prakash
Renee Wong
Sunny Virmani
Christopher Semturs
Sara Mahdavi
Bradley Green
Ewa Dominowska
Joelle Barral
Karan Singhal
Pete Florence
NEJM AI (2024)
Preview abstract BACKGROUND: Medicine is inherently multimodal, requiring the simultaneous interpretation and integration of insights between many data modalities spanning text, imaging, genomics, and more. Generalist biomedical artificial intelligence systems that flexibly encode, integrate, and interpret these data might better enable impactful applications ranging from scientific discovery to care delivery. METHODS: To catalyze development of these models, we curated MultiMedBench, a new multimodal biomedical benchmark. MultiMedBench encompasses 14 diverse tasks, such as medical question answering, mammography and dermatology image interpretation, radiology report generation and summarization, and genomic variant calling. We then introduced Med-PaLM Multimodal (Med-PaLM M), our proof of concept for a generalist biomedical AI system that flexibly encodes and interprets biomedical data including clinical language, imaging, and genomics with the same set of model weights. To further probe the capabilities and limitations of Med-PaLM M, we conducted a radiologist evaluation of model-generated (and human) chest x-ray reports. RESULTS: We observed encouraging performance across model scales. Med-PaLM M reached performance competitive with or exceeding the state of the art on all MultiMedBench tasks, often surpassing specialist models by a wide margin. In a side-by-side ranking on 246 retrospective chest x-rays, clinicians expressed a pairwise preference for Med-PaLM Multimodal reports over those produced by radiologists in up to 40.50% of cases, suggesting potential clinical utility. CONCLUSIONS: Although considerable work is needed to validate these models in real-world cases and understand if cross-modality generalization is possible, our results represent a milestone toward the development of generalist biomedical artificial intelligence systems. View details