BRC part of new centre to create next generation of AI leaders

The BRC will form part of a new centre to apply artificial intelligence (AI) to healthcare, and healthcare to AI.

UCL has been awarded £12.6m in funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) which will be used to establish two new Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) at UCL, to enable a new generation of PhD students to create new AI technology, transforming healthcare and creating new commercial opportunities.

The BRC will be involved in one CDT focussing on ‘AI-enabled Healthcare Systems’ which will be led by Prof Geraint Rees, Professor of Cognitive Neurology (UCL life Sciences), along with NIHR BRCs at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Great Ormond Street.

The CDT will also be supported by numerous commercial partners, including Benevolent AI, along with the Whittington and Royal Free Hospitals and Public Health England.

“We will not only apply AI to healthcare but also apply healthcare to AI. This will drive innovation in the AI field while also using AI to transform healthcare by extracting more information from patient data to accelerate diagnosis and improve patient outcomes,” said Professor Rees.

“Graduates will work in the NHS and receive training from world-leading academics who combine clinical with AI expertise and have commercial connections. This integration will enable rapid real-world piloting of AI on hardware embedded in hospitals and GP practices,” Professor Rees added.

Another CDT at UCL specialising in ‘Foundational Artificial Intelligence’ will be led by Professor David Barber, Professor of Machine Learning (UCL Computer Science) in collaboration with the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit and the UCL Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience.

This CDT will be supported by a large body of industry partners to help the UCL team create an exciting platform to launch the students’ careers as scientists or AI entrepreneurs.

“As we become increasingly reliant on automation, it is vital that the UK remains at the forefront of developing and exploiting AI for the benefit of society, science and industry. For AI systems to progress beyond existing tools, they must be able to handle vast cultural, physical and emotional knowledge,” said Professor Barber.

He added: “We’ll work with many leading tech firms to help address this challenge and expand on industry investment in AI by training students to be leaders in creating new AI technologies that transform society for the better.”

The announcement of the UKRI funding award was made by the government today as part of a wider initiative to sustain a pipeline of talent to ensure that the UK remains at the forefront of emerging technologies and the global revolution in AI.