URMC News

Symposium Will Showcase Health Care Applications of IBM Watson

June 19, 2013

While the IBM Watson supercomputing system is probably best known for its star turn on Jeopardy!, the very capabilities that made the computer a successful quiz show contestant – the ability to analyze large sets of unstructured data – are now being harnessed to improve the delivery of care and lower costs. Representatives from IBM and the University of Rochester will gather on Friday, June 28 from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM in the Class of '62 Auditorium at the Medical Center to discuss the health care and research applications for the Watson technology and explore potential collaborations between the two institutions.    

Presentations will detail the Watson system’s capability to interpret queries in natural language and use statistical analysis, advanced analytics, and a powerful array of processors to sift through large volumes of data in seconds and deliver evidence-based statistically-ranked responses. Presenters will also showcase innovative approaches to utilizing big data in both clinical and scientific settings.

An example of the application of Watson’s unique capabilities is in the field of cancer treatment.   The volume of cancer research has exploded in recent year, making it difficult for physicians to stay abreast of the latest clinical information. Additionally, more and more cancer treatments are tailored to the individual, based on family medical history, genetic profiles, and a myriad of other factors. Serving as a virtual assistant, Watson can help physicians synthesize this information through its ability to analyze a patient’s medical records, instantaneously consult vast volumes of continuously updated and vetted treatment guidelines and published research data, and suggest further tests, treatment options, and even identify eligible clinical trials. 

The University of Rochester has already partnered with IBM to create the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation – an initiative dedicated to applying cutting-edge computational power to complex health research challenges. Last year, the University was one of the first academic institutions in the country to receive an IBM Blue Gene/Q, the company’s new generation of powerful supercomputers.

The Big Data, Analytics, and Watson Symposium is open to the University community. Click here to register.

For Media Inquiries:
Mark Michaud
(585) 273-4790
Mark Michaud