The University of Sydney and China’s Fudan University are partnering on a research initiative to explore the uses of artificial intelligence (AI) to improve brain and mind health.

The research partnership, officially titled the Brain and Intelligence Science Alliance (BISA), will combine study of computational neuroscience with the ethics of AI use.

The partnership is part of a larger agreement that will see joint funding provided for various education and research projects concerning brain and intelligence science.

According to a 2018 report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease was the number one cause of death among Australian women in 2016.

"When it comes to brain disorders the challenges China faces over the next few decades as its population ages further are immense,” Professor Sharon Naismith, University of Sydney's lead academic on the partnership on BISA, said in a statement. “Therefore research on the prevention, early diagnosis and early intervention for brain disorders is particularly urgent."

The University of Sydney’s Brain and Mind Centre focuses on conditions that affect child development, youth mental health and brain ageing, while Fudan University specializes in brain intelligence science and technology.

Also housed in the Brain and Mind Centre is the Sydney Neuroimaging Analysis Centre, and it is home to the University of Sydney and Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) Node of the Australian National Imaging Facility.

“We need to work across disciplines and across oceans if our research is going to improve lives, University of Sydney vice-chancellor Dr. Michael Spence said in a statement. “The challenges of brain disorders can only be addressed if we get the sharpest minds working on solutions. That’s why we are working with Fudan University on this important research.”

In March, Australia’s largest dedicated private provider of cancer care, Icon Group, signed an agreement with China’s Sanbo Brain Hospital Group to deliver radiation oncology services, which are set to open later this year in their Chang’an hospital in Chongqing.

The agreement will see Icon operate the Chang’an Chongqing centre, with the site already in initial stages of development — Sanbo currently operates six brain hospitals in Beijing, Chongqing, Kunming, Fuzhou and Jinan.

In August 2018, the University of Sydney’s Neuroimaging Analysis Centre was the recipient of an AU$2.36 million government grant to improve diagnostic neuroimaging of brain ailments such as multiple sclerosis and dementia.

The grant will help the Centre develop AI-based algorithms that aid in both the diagnosis and monitoring of brain diseases using magnetic resonance images and CT scans.

 

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