Delegation from Germany visits UCSF to launch AI partnership with Christian-Albrechts-Universität

people sitting in an audience

On Wednesday, June 7, the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging hosted a delegation of German political leaders and academics from the state of Schleswig-Holstein for the official launch of AI FLEX, a federated learning exchange project with great promise for advancing biomedical imaging and improving patient care. AI FLEX will begin with a large repository of orthopedic radiographs archived at UCSF, training a model to find biomarkers that predict which patients are at risk of suffering hip fractures based on indicators in previous scans. 

Several speakers at AI Exchange event

Sharmila Majumdar, PhD, and Dr. Claus-C. Glüer, research collaborators since the 1990s, are the principal investigators for AI FLEX. Dr. Majumdar is a UCSF faculty member. Dr. Glüer is a faculty member at Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel (CAU) and the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH), the second largest university hospital in Germany. Frailty and aging are significant population health issues in the US and Germany, hence the PI’s focus on AI research with the potential to reduce morbidity and improve quality of life in aging populations.

Dr. Majumdar said, “This partnership will allow us to use AI imaging to address meet unmet patient needs. AI can see far more than a human reading these images. It can assess an image in its entirety, with all the biology that shows up.” Dr. Glüer observed that, “Establishing a framework for effective cooperation while maintaining data privacy would allow UCSF, CAU, UKSH, and other institutions to scale these approaches to other scientific questions. The advent of advanced AI systems to process vast arrays of data could present answers to urgent public health concerns, further illuminate the implications of climate change, and provide insight to predict and model other world-changing matters.”

crowd of people gatheringDaniel Günther, Minister-President of Schleswig-Holstein, led the German delegation and expressed his enthusiasm for this scientific collaboration showcasing the strengths of UCSF and UKSH and the warm Sister City relationship between San Francisco and Kiel. “Today we are building a new bridge between our regions, one that will benefit our universities, healthcare industry, and patients. The exchange of knowledge always makes us better.”

UCSF participants in the event included Catherine Lucey, MD, UCSF Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, who delivered opening remarks. Atul Butte, MD, PhD, Chief Data Scientist at UC Health and director, Bakar Computational Health Sciences Institute, spoke to the unique scale of the University of California’s data repositories. Paul Voigt and Alexander Roth, intellectual property attorneys based in the Berlin and San Francisco offices of Taylor Wessing, LLP, addressed data privacy issues in international law.  Mark Chandler, director of International Trade and Commerce in the San Francisco Mayor’s Office, was on hand to foster the sister city relationship of San Francisco and Kiel, Germany. 

Dr. Simone Fulda, president of CAU, joined in the celebration by video from Germany, along with an enthusiastic audience of late-night watchers. She observed that, “The combination of AI and health is so very important, and this kind of international cooperation and scientific exchange is key to addressing the great challenges that we all face.” 

To learn more about AI and biomedical imaging at UCSF, please visit the Center for Intelligent Imaging (ci2).