Media Release: New research chair uses artificial intelligence to accelerate precision health care in Alberta

Dr. Ross Mitchell joins the University of Alberta, Alberta Health Services and Amii as the Inaugural Alberta Health Services Chair in AI in Health

EDMONTON — After spending 10 years working at some of the most prestigious medical research institutions in the United States, Dr. Ross Mitchell returns to Alberta as the inaugural Alberta Health Services (AHS) Chair in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Health at the University of Alberta, and a Fellow of the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii).

In his new role, Dr. Mitchell’s goal is to provide physicians and medical researchers with Al-powered tools that can help manage the complexity of diagnosis and treatment planning. He is also excited to support learning and development through the U of A to train a new generation of scientists with complementary expertise in AI and health care.

Dr. Mitchell’s work has two primary focuses: first, he seeks to use AI techniques in natural language processing to speed the discovery process for clinicians and researchers combing through text-based sources of information such as pathology reports, allowing them to focus on other aspects of patient care. Dr. Mitchell is also interested in developing a fluid, natural interface for transcribing notes and accessing information, hopefully helping physicians connect more directly with their patients.

“If you’ve been to a doctor’s visit recently, you’ve probably noticed that much of their work is behind a computer screen,” says Dr. Mitchell. “The use of computers in health care has certainly sped the delivery of service and led to improved outcomes for patients. And yet, it’s an impersonal way of interacting with patients and may have the unintended effect of a physician missing an important physical cue from their patient. AI provides us a way of assisting in health-care delivery while letting a doctor focus more of their attention on the person in the room.”

Dr. Mitchell says AI is going to be key for dealing with increasing complexity in our health-care systems.

“Physicians often receive partial, incomplete and conflicting information from a variety of sources, and it’s their role to sift through and process all that data in order to make the best decision for their patient’s care. By developing AI-enabled tools, I’m working to help doctors make better use of data while also reducing the amount of time and effort needed to gain new insights.”

The endowed chair is supported through AHS, and a generous gift from the University Hospital Foundation in collaboration with Amii. Dr. Mitchell is also joining the U of A as a professor in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and AHS as the senior program director of artificial intelligence adoption.

Dr. Mitchell was the inaugural artificial intelligence officer at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida from 2019 to 2021. He was a professor of radiology at Mayo Clinic in Arizona from 2011 to 2019 and professor of biomedical engineering, radiology and clinical neurosciences at the University of Calgary from 2000 to 2011.

“I’m excited to be back in Alberta because this province offers a unique opportunity to create innovative solutions that can be difficult to develop in other places,” says Dr. Mitchell. “Along with a wealth of highly trained people and a robust public health system, Alberta has a culture of innovation, paired with access to data and technologies, which can truly help us revolutionize the way we deliver health care. For me, Alberta is the perfect place to continue my work in providing AI-enabled tools for clinical researchers and physicians.”

Alberta's Health and Innovation Community Welcomes Dr. Mitchell

“We are looking forward to working with Dr. Mitchell, and to applying the University of Alberta's AI research to specific areas of health care for the benefit of all Albertans. For example, we anticipate one early area of focus will be to incorporate AI in a length-of-stay prediction model to help manage bed capacity.”

- Kathryn Todd, Vice-President, Provincial Clinical Excellence, Alberta Health Services

"Amii is pleased to welcome back to Alberta Dr. Ross Mitchell, who has joined a long list of researchers turning to Canada as a key destination where they can advance their AI work. We're especially excited to see the impact of Dr. Mitchell's work as the Alberta Health Services Chair in AI for Health. AI has tremendous potential to change the way we think about healthcare delivery, and Dr. Mitchell's work is at the forefront of innovation in this space. We look forward to many advancements in precision medicine in the years to come."

- Richard S. Sutton, Chief Scientific Advisor, Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute

"We are very excited to have Dr. Mitchell join our faculty, and look forward to the opportunity to work closely with our partners, including AHS and Amii."

- Dr. Brenda Hemmelgarn, Dean, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry, University of Alberta

“Donors to the University Hospital Foundation believe collaboration with our partners is critical to improving the health outcomes of Albertans. Bringing the expertise and experience of Dr. Ross Mitchell back to Alberta opens the doors to new discoveries, treatments and approaches to preventing illnesses, and elevates Alberta as a centre of thought leadership in AI and machine learning around the world.”

- Dr. Jodi L. Abbott, President & CEO, University Hospital Foundation

To speak with Dr. Ross Mitchell, please contact:

Ross Neitz

UAlberta media strategist

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