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Funding from the Ola HAWAII Pilot Projects Program

Funding from the Ola HAWAII Pilot Projects Program

The Hawaiʻi Digital Health Lab has been approved by the peer review committee for funding from the Ola HAWAII Pilot Projects Program to support a project in partnership with the AI Precision Health Institute and Shepherd Research Lab to build fair breast cancer prediction models using mammograms.

This project will study how AI is being used in medicine to predict if a woman may be at higher risk of getting breast cancer. The AI model for predicting breast cancer risk was developed from analyzing thousands of images from mammograms (a test that takes x-ray images of the breast to diagnose breast cancer). However, the data can be biased or skewed. For example, when the data used has more information from one race, or one group of people, than another—say, more data or information from White women than Polynesian or Filipino women. When this happens, the AI predictions may be less accurate for the smaller underrepresented groups because the AI model had fewer examples or data to learn from for that group. Measuring the amount of this bias has taken place in many fields of study but it has never been done in breast cancer radiology using images from mammograms.

This research project involves measuring this bias using a dataset from mammograms collected in Hawai`i using a dataset of just over 1,000 women with breast cancer and just over 1,000 without breast cancer from 2009-2022. The lab will use two methods from Computer Science which can decrease the disparity in performance (bias) between demographic groups (specifically, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander, White, and Asian) with different amounts of representation in the data. Our research goal is to develop AI models with less bias while maintaining high accuracy in predicting breast cancer risk so that patients and their doctors can determine the best course of monitoring or treatment.

The Ola HAWAII website describes the center as follows:

With continued support from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) through the Research Centers in Minority Institutions (RCMI), the overall long-term goal of the RCMI Specialized Center, titled Ola HAWAII, is to improve minority health and reduce disparities for those communities in Hawai’i which suffer disproportionately in health outcomes and healthcare access. Recently funded for five years (2022 – 2027), the objective of the Center is to lead and advance minority health and health disparities research in Hawaii. Our Center name is derived from Ola meaning “health” and “to heal” in Hawaiian and HAWAII which designates both our island homeland and our aspiration “Heath And Wellness Achieved by Impacting Inequalities”.
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