Springboard Award supports new AI project

OCT scan

Springboard Award supports new artificial intelligence project

A team of experts at Moorfields Eye Hospital are keeping up to date with artificial intelligence (AI) technology securing a Springboard Award from Moorfields Eye Charity to carry out a proof-of-concept study to combine and analyse a high volume of clinical and imaging data together with genetic data from patients with neovascular age-related macular degeneration (nAMD).

This project led by Konstantinos Balaskas, consultant ophthalmologist and head of the Moorfields ophthalmic reading centre, will develop a high-dimensional data resource that will be used for machine learning research in nAMD, but the research will also be part of large datasets being established for research at Moorfields.

This follows on from the recent announcement of another exciting AI project published in Nature Medicine this week, the partnership of Moorfields Eye Hospital with DeepMind Health to use AI to identify potentially blinding eye diseases.  

How will it work?

The main three sources of information that can help inform clinicians’ decisions on the treatment regimen to the specific needs of each patient are:

  • clinical information such as age, vision assessments
  • details from images taken of the structures of the eye such as optical coherence tomography of the retina in AMD
  • the genetic make-up of each patient.

Using novel methods of AI and machine learning t to analyse this complex information, the research team’s goal is to help make sense of all this data and single out the factors that can help tailor treatments to the needs of each patient. By better understanding these variables, predictions of response to treatments may also be developed.

Konstantinos Balaskas said:

Artificial intelligence, and more specifically machine learning, is emerging as one of the main enablers of personalised care in medicine. Moorfields Eye Hospital has already established world-leading research collaborations to explore the transformative potential of artificial intelligence applications in ophthalmology. In this pioneering project our research team will develop and implement machine learning techniques for shifting through vast amounts of clinical, imaging and genetics data from patients with neovascular AMD.

This will help us identify prognostic clues for visual outcomes and response to treatment and thus enable tailoring care to the needs of each individual patient. I am grateful to the Moorfields Eye Charity for supporting this exciting research project through the Springboard Award. Moorfields has an unrivalled potential for leading the world in artificial intelligence research in ophthalmology and access to early-stage funding is invaluable for establishing ambitious research programs

The Springboard Awards provide researchers with funding to develop novel ideas and generate compelling preliminary data which will underpin follow-on larger funding applications.  Having access to funding at the early stages is often critical in determining just how competitive these future applications can be.  

Following this current pilot study, Konstantinos and the research team will seek more funding to develop a comprehensive AI pipeline. This will involve many eye conditions beyond nAMD, with emphasis on high-volume disease, and will utilise the extensive datasets available within Moorfields in order to develop AI tools for personalising care, tailoring it to the needs of each individual patient. 

The implications for patient experience of care, service delivery and the NHS are very significant and Moorfields Eye Charity is proud to support current and future research.

To find out more about the Springboard Award scheme, including information on how to apply, visit the award page here.