Aga Khan University’s colorectal cancer research gets Sh112 million grant

The Aga Khan University (AKU) in Kenya has secured a research grant of Kes112 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to spearhead a groundbreaking study on cancer treatment.

Under the deal, researchers will study the potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to address challenges associated with diagnosing and predicting outcomes in colorectal cancer cases across Africa.

In this undertaking, the AKU will collaborate with the University of Michigan’s Center of Global Health Equity (CGHE), which is a key partner in this NIH-funded research project. The initiative will be led by an interdisciplinary team comprising oncologists, pathologists, surgeons, statisticians, and informaticians drawn from AKU, Center of Global Health Equity, and Tenwek Hospital, a community-based public hospital situated in Bomet County.

Aga Khan University’s cancer centre

“I am thrilled with this NIH grant, which will enable us to make meaningful strides in addressing the challenges of colorectal cancer diagnosis and prognostication in Africa. Ourultimate goal is to create a future where diagnostic limitations, especially in the area of histo-and molecular-pathology, can be overcome through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning,” said Dr Mansoor Saleh, Founding Director of the Cancer Centre at AKU Kenya.

The grant comes at an opportune time as the AKU’s Cancer Centre marks its three-year anniversary.

According to the World Health Organization, colorectal cancer ranks as the third most common cancer worldwide, comprising around 10 percent of all cancer cases. The Global Cancer Observatory’s data for 2020 indicates a 2.5 percent 5-year prevalence of colorectal cancer in Africa.

Consequently, cancer represents a significant public health challenge across the African continent, exacerbated by the considerable obstacles in securing specialized training and access to advanced diagnostic technologies.

The project will build upon ongoing collaborative research initiatives between the AKU and the Center for Global Health Equity, which includes the Utilising Health Information for Meaningful Impact in East Africa through Data Science (UZIMA-DS) Research Hub.

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Health outcomes in Africa

UZIMA-DS Research Hub is dedicated to establishing a scalable and sustainable platform that applies innovative approaches to data assimilation and leverages advanced artificial intelligence- and machine learning-based methods to function as early warning systems, ultimately enhancing health outcomes in Africa.

The AKU empowers the people of the developing world with the knowledge and skills to realise their highest goals through transformative education that prepares graduates for local and global leadership.

Meanwhile the Center for Global Health Equity at the University of Michigan is committed to advancing health equity worldwide through research, education, and community engagement. Collaborating with partners like Aga Khan University, the center works to address global health challenges and reduce disparities in healthcare access and outcomes.

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