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AI / cloud / Healthcare / Life sciences

Amazon Web Services donates $1M each to Children’s National, CHOP

DC and Philly’s premiere kids’ hospitals, among others, will use the grants to advance such tech integrations as cloud innovation and generative AI.

Children's National Hospital in DC. (Courtesy)

The Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus in northwest DC typically has more than 2,000 active research projects in the mix. The problem is, not all of them are funded. 

But some of those may be soon, thanks to a $1 million donation from Amazon Web Services (AWS) that the tech giant’s cloud computing subsidiary announced at its summit in DC today. Fellow highly regarded pediatric institutions like Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, working in tandem with the Children’s Brain Tumor Network it houses, and Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio join Children’s National’s research arm as recipients of their own $1 million grants, AWS revealed. 

The donation to Children’s National, whose innovation campus occupies part of the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center site, is specifically focused on furthering generative artificial intelligence and cloud innovation at the hospital. 

“This recent donation will absolutely enable us to broaden this support to many other projects that we have in mind,” said Mihailo Kaplarevic, the hospital’s chief research Information officer and its affiliated research institute’s bioinformatics division chief.

The AWS Summit, where the announcement was made, takes place today and Thursday at the district’s Walter E. Washington Convention Center today and Thursday, is tailored to technologists working in the public sector. It features about 300 sessions, as well as certification and training opportunities. 

This commitment to Children’s National and the two other pediatric institutions is part of a larger $10 million initiative. The remaining $7 million also announced today and titled the AWS IMAGINE Children’s Health Innovation Award, will be granted to other organizations using cloud computing and artificial intelligence in pediatric health research. 

Nonprofits with pilot projects, proofs of concept and programs related to children’s healthcare are encouraged to submit proposals, according to Dr. Angela Shippy, the clinical innovation lead and senior physician executive at AWS. 

“We want to do our part to minimize or eliminate the financial hurdles that exist so that medical professionals can more quickly and easily work toward advancing pediatric and children’s causes,” she told 

These unrestricted funds will be awarded on a rolling basis. Grantees will also receive access to training and support from AWS. 

This isn’t the first time AWS has donated to Children’s National: In 2021, it granted $750,000 in cloud computing credits to be used over three years. AWS tech experts also worked with staff at the innovation campus in developing tech-focused research skills as part of the partnership. 

Grant funding is set to kick in in four weeks, according to Kaplarevic, and leaders are identifying the potential research projects that will be supported.  

The $1 million will also be used to maintain and improve the technology that the Children’s National Research and Innovation Campus already uses. That includes cloud services, predominantly the AWS system, to test hypotheses and “crunch big numbers,” Kaplarevic explained. 

“Data is abundant,” he said. “It is very difficult to find actual useful information in so much data. So this is one way to do that … and also use artificial intelligence to simply make sense in this huge, vast amount of information.”

The campus currently experiments with AI in a few ongoing projects, including a platform to detect rheumatic heart disease in children and young adults. Children’s National collaborated with the Uganda Heart Institute and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to develop an algorithm that spots the condition using low-cost, portable ultrasound. 

The goal of these projects using AI or other technology is to find ways to help more kids get treated and heal faster, Kaplarevic said. 

He noted that generative AI isn’t being applied haphazardly: Right now, leaders are developing a policy to ensure patient data is kept safe and private. 

“The use of this new technology, the use of cloud, the use of local high-performance computing — in many ways, Children’s National Hospital is becoming a proper technology company,” Kaplarevic said, “because we use so much computing power and technology to achieve our goals.”

Updated June 26 include information from AWS, as well as its clinical innovation lead and senior physician executive Dr. Angela Shippy.

Companies: Amazon Web Services / Amazon / Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

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