National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII)
with a Research and Development focus on Veterans
Why AI R&D in VA?
VA is the largest integrated health care system in the country, has established several big data repositories including the largest genomic knowledge base in the world linked to health care information, and trains the largest number of nurses and doctors in the United States. In fact, nearly three-quarters of all U.S. doctors receive training in VA, creating ample opportunities to train the future health AI workforce. Given this, VA is uniquely positioned to advance AI research, development, and implementation at the frontiers of science and health for our nation's Veterans, and the population at large.
What is the National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII)?
The NAII seeks to develop AI research and development capabilities in VA to support Veterans, their families, survivors, and caregivers. The NAII designs and collaborates on large-scale AI R&D initiatives, national AI policy, and partnerships across agencies, industries, and academia. The NAII is a joint initiative by the Office of Research and Development and the Office of the Secretary's Center for Strategic Partnerships in VA. The NAII is dedicated to advancing AI research and development for real-world impact and outcomes to ensure Veteran health and well-being.
Dr. Gil Alterovitz
Dr. Alterovitz is working to build AI R&D capacity to help Veterans. He has led national and international collaborative initiatives for developing novel informatics methods and approaches for integrating clinical, pharmaceutical, and genomic information, from research to point-of-care. He has produced over 50 peer-reviewed publications and three books in the field. "We envision a future where AI can give us tools to serve Veterans in the best way possible, as they did for our nation," says Alterovitz.
Dr. Gil Alterovitz, VA's Director of Artificial Intelligence, was recognized in 2019 by the Government Innovation Awards for his role in developing a novel data framework to foster collaboration between private industry and government around AI applications. To read more, please see the full article here.
Dr. Gil Alterovitz, VA's Director of Artificial Intelligence, was selected as a 2020 FedHealthIT100 winner. The FedHealthIT100 honors those individuals recognized for driving change and advancement in the Federal Health Information Technology and Consulting Market. Nominated and chosen by their peers, some common themes among those who were selected include the desire and willingness to challenge conventional wisdom, to go above and beyond, to drive innovation, and to give back to the larger Federal Health IT and Consulting community. To see the full list of awardees, please see the FedHealthIT page here.
The NAII solicits, develops, and executes on flagship AI R&D projects to demonstrate size, scope, and magnitude of capabilities that deliver positive real-world outcomes for Veterans. These flagship projects, with Veteran input, will emphasize particular AI areas, such as: deep learning, explainable AI, privacy-preserving AI, and AI for multi-scale time series.
Collaboration with other researchers and AI specialists is vital for the NAII to pioneer new AI R&D and applications, drive improvement in operations, and advance scientific scholarship — all to provide the best possible outcomes for our veterans.
The NAII leads "sprints" within VA using the "Government Innovation Award"-winning framework for empowering an AI-able ecosystem through voluntary incentives linking the ecosystem of federal, industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations around AI R&D. For example, one tool created in a recent sprint, among others, was designed to leverage AI to empower Veterans to find clinical trials and other experimental therapies. Furthermore, the NAII will explore potential partnerships with various federal and non-federal entities around AI R&D.
The NAII has established two AI communities. One community is for all interested and excited about AI technologies and the second is an Interagency Actionable AI in Health and Wellness Community for those in Federal government. The goals of our communities are to highlight innovative AI research at the VA and provide a platform for collaboration amongst researchers, practitioners, and leadership. By banding together we can leverage AI technologies to forge a brighter future for our Veterans.
The NAII is also helping VA build AI R&D capacity from basic to clinical research. The NAII's efforts aim to train a new generation of AI scientists, practitioners, and clinicians to promote the health and well-being of Veterans. As a team of AI experts and researchers, the NAII is well-positioned to share knowledge, techniques, and lessons learned with the larger VA community. One such effort is the creation of an AI Tech Sprint handbook that will allow other teams and organizations to orchestrate a sprint to introduce new ideas and solutions.
The Big Data Scientist Training Enhancement Program (BD-STEP) is a two-year postdoctoral fellowship that uses data science to advance healthcare research and patient care. BD-STEP was launched as a Veterans Health Administration (VHA) advanced fellowship in 2015 in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The program connects talented early career data scientists with VA researchers and clinicians, as well as NCI cancer experts. Through clinically oriented projects that harness VA's big data resources, fellows' research can inform healthcare administrators and empower clinicians to translate findings to improve patient care. For more information please see the BD-STEP homepage and the BD-STEP Information Flyer.
How You Can Participate
Whether you want to participate in a tech sprint, partner on research, or simply have a suggestion or comment, we hope you'll join the exciting conversation about the intersection of AI and Veteran health and well-being. For questions and comments, please email NAII@va.gov.