South Carolina is spearheading an innovative effort to transform healthcare delivery and diagnosis through the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI). The state has forged a coalition, led by Clemson University, to form a multi-institutional project named Artificial Intelligence-Enabled Devices for the Advancement of Personalized and Transformative Health Care in South Carolina (ADAPT-SC). This project’s focus is to innovate and advance AI-enabled medical devices to revolutionize healthcare.
The National Science Foundation’s substantial five-year, $20 million investment underpins this ambitious initiative. Clemson University heads a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from 11 higher educational institutions throughout the state, alongside active collaboration with SC Bio, a life sciences industry association and statewide economic development organization. SC Bio’s involvement brings nearly 200 members into the fold, bolstering translational research efforts.
Clemson’s Vice President for Research, Tanju Karanfil, attests to the university’s enduring commitment to health innovation and AI research. According to Karanfil, ADAPT-SC is a unique opportunity to merge these two domains to enhance the care quality and overall life quality in South Carolina. He firmly believes that this research will produce life-saving outcomes, directly benefiting patients and their families.
ADAPT-SC has three core objectives driving its work. The first is to build research capacity in AI-enabled biomedical devices, aiming to transform South Carolina’s healthcare system, with a particular focus on reaching underserved areas. Secondly, the project strives to nurture a diverse talent pool in the field of biomedical AI. They plan to achieve this through innovative approaches to education and workforce development, ranging from primary school education (K-12) to higher education. The third goal is to promote interdisciplinary collaborations and foster academic-industrial partnerships. This will be accomplished by establishing integrated programs that facilitate research, education, and technology transfer. ADAPT-SC has several intriguing research projects in the pipeline. These range from integrating AI into diagnostic devices to uncover hidden underlying causes of cardiovascular disease, to accurately detecting wounds in intensive care units and predicting peripheral artery disease outcomes. An additional promising area of research involves creating digital twins of patients. These digital replicas will allow researchers to test AI-enabled therapy and rehabilitation plans for patients suffering from lung cancer.
Trustworthiness of AI and the security of AI-enabled devices are also central to ADAPT-SC’s work. In a healthcare setting, these factors are of paramount importance and will be thoroughly evaluated.
Bruce Gao, ADAPT’s scientific lead and the South Carolina SmartState Endowed Chair of biofabrication engineering at Clemson, recognizes the challenges healthcare providers face in diagnosing diseases, monitoring traumatic injuries, and predicting the likely outcomes of different treatment plans. AI, he believes, has the potential to mitigate these challenges, providing expedient information to aid physicians in devising patient-specific care plans based on individual medical histories.
The investment from the National Science Foundation will fund the addition of five tenure-track faculty members and eight postdoctoral researchers across the state. It will also support the development of new computing and other infrastructure critical for advanced AI research. The project, involving more than 30 faculty members across participating institutions, is expected to provide training opportunities for over 100 new Ph.D. students and 400 undergraduate students. Moreover, ADAPT-SC plans to reach out to K-12 students throughout the state to foster an interest in science, technology, engineering, and math, further bolstering the future talent pool.
Through the intercollegiate collaboration fostered by ADAPT-SC, South Carolina is championing a new era of healthcare, one that leverages AI to revolutionize diagnostic and treatment methodologies. This initiative exemplifies a forward-thinking approach to healthcare, demonstrating the powerful outcomes possible when academic institutions,