BurstIQThe American Heart Association, Hitachi Vantara and BurstIQ offer Covid-19 datasets to researchers and clinicians. The purpose is to examine the relationship with other health conditions and health disparities.

“People living in under-resourced communities, particularly African Americans and US Hispanics, appear to be dying of Covid-19 at disproportionately high rates, as they’re more likely to have underlying health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and obesity,” said Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science for the American Heart Association.

Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science, American Heart Association
Jennifer Hall, Ph.D., chief of data science, American Heart Association

Long before the pandemic, systemic challenges have contributed to disparities that impede some people from living long, healthy lives. Covid-19 has further exacerbated this issue.”

The need

Data on race, under-resourced communities and Covid-19 has limits. What is emerging are disproportionately high rates of sickness and death among African Americans, US Hispanics, Native People and those in rural areas. To accelerate breakthroughs and understanding of these connections, the American Heart Association, Hitachi Vantara and BurstIQ, a provider of blockchain-based secure data solutions for the healthcare industry, have launched a data challenge to expand the resources available to researchers.

This data challenge is specifically focused on exploring and testing:

  • the relationships between Covid-19 and other health conditions
  • health disparities and social determinants of health that bring a higher burden of illness or mortality
  • factors such as ethnicity, gender, geography or income.

Hitachi Vantara, which built the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform, will provide more than $100,000 in funding for prizes to:

  • support the management of a two-step challenge
  • recruit top scientists to this critical effort.

At the end of stage one, six $5,000 prizes will be awarded. Winners then compete in a final stage for a $15,000 prize. All applications will be peer-reviewed by a panel of data science and public health experts.

Paul Watson, Hitachi Vantara.
Paul Watson, Hitachi Vantara.

Improving collaboration around data between researchers and scientists enables the rapid co-creation of new solutions that more quickly and effectively tackle existing and new healthcare threats such as Covid-19,” said Paul Watson, vice president Healthcare & Life Sciences, Hitachi Vantara.

Working together, our three organizations will deliver a paradigm shift in the way researchers and their institutions leverage data to solve medical challenges like Covid-19.”

Covid-19 datasets and the BurstIQ blockchain connection

When it comes to a widescale public health crisis like COVID-19, healthcare goes straight to the forefront of most people’s minds. Everyone, and organisations of all forms scramble to seek out cures and vaccines. Yet organising healthcare solutions on a global scale presents challenges. Not helping is the reality that many healthcare solution providers still rely on outdated and inefficient processes to support those in the front line.

Frank Ricotta, CEO, BurstIQ
Frank Ricotta, CEO, BurstIQ

BurstIQ is a blockchain-based data solutions provider who is trying to tackle the challenges posed by the current way of doing things. As Frank Ricotta, BurstIQ’s CEO, puts it: “Covid-19 has created an acute sense of urgency, speeding up demand for researchers, organizations, public health officials, and innovators to cooperate in real-time. It also exposed an underlying reality, we now live in a world of data abundance, not scarcity, but we have very little trust and faith in the data itself or each other. It is why we launched Research Foundry and why we have received overwhelming support from the market.

“Research Foundry is more than a data repository. It is a model for the kind of collaboration efforts we need now and in the future. Collaboration that expands human knowledge, collaboration that extends our understanding of factors that impact health, collaborations that incentivize and reward innovators, and collaboration that helps individuals live a healthier life without compromising their privacy.”

BurstIQ’s global Covid-19 datasets will be available on the American Heart Association’s Precision Medicine Platform. The latter is, a central hub for the cardiovascular and stroke research community. It has vast and diverse datasets and cloud-based workspaces which enable state-of-the-art high-performance computing, analytics and collaboration. The objective is to accelerate scientific discovery.

Enterprise Times: what does this mean

Through this American Heart Association/Hitachi Vantara/BurstIQ data challenge, Covid-19 researchers will be able to use the Precision Medicine Platform’s protected workspaces and their:

  • state-of-the-art analysis tools
  • machine-learning
  • artificial intelligence.

Researchers will be able to use datasets hosted on the Platform – as well as their own data – to address:

  • unsolved Covid-19 questions
  • how the disease may be disproportionally affecting those with health disparities.

Yet what stands out to Enterprise Times, despite all the ‘global’ references, is the national nature of this challenge. It is US-focused with US datasets/resources. It may produce cures or solutions which become globalised. But the nature of the challenge, data and output seem to be the opposite of global. Enterprise Times hopes it is wrong and that anyone, anywhere (with acceptable research credentials) can exploit these resources.

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Charles Brett is a business/technology analyst consultant. His specialist areas include enterprise software, blockchain and enterprise mobility tech (including metering). Specific industry sectors of interest and experience include finance (especially systems supporting wholesale finance), telecommunications and energy. Charles has spoken at multiple industry conferences, has written for numerous publications (including the London Times and the Financial Times). He was the General Chair of the bi-annual High Performance Systems Workshop, 2005. In addition he is an author and novelist. His Technology books include: Making the Most of Mobility Vol I (eBook, 2012); Explaining iTunes, iPhones and iPads for Windows Users (eBook, 2011); 5 Axes of Business Application Integration (2004). His published novels, in the Corruption Series, include: The HolyPhone Confessional Crisis, Corruption’s Price: A Spanish Deceit and Virginity Despoiled. The fourth in The Corruption Series - Resurrection - has is now available. Charles has a B.A. and M.A in Modern History from the University of Oxford. He has lived or worked in Italy, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, California and New York, Spain, Israel, Estonia and Cyprus.


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