$100K grant to explore use of A.I. for diabetes tracking in Guam

$100K grant to explore use of A.I. for diabetes tracking in Guam

$100K grant to explore use of A.I. for diabetes tracking in Guam


A new $100,000 grant awarded to the University of Guam’s College of Natural & Applied Sciences will fund a pilot project through September exploring the use of A.I. to improve diabetes data and outcomes within marginalized communities.

The feasibility study — titled “Diabetes Surveillance to Examine Health and Nutrition Access/Availability,” or DISEHA — is funded by the National Institutes of Health’s AIM-AHEAD Program. AIM-AHEAD is looking to enhance the diversity of populations represented in the development of A.I. and machine learning (AI/ML) models in order to address the disparity that exists with health data while at the same time improving the emerging technology.

“The lack of diversity of both data and researchers in the AI/ML field runs the risk of creating and perpetuating harmful biases in its practice, algorithms, and outcomes, thus fostering continued health disparities and inequities,” the AIM-AHEAD Program states.

The short-term goal of the DISEHA study in Guam is to examine the feasibility of using existing clinical data, such as electronic health records, to establish a Guam Diabetes Registry. This pilot project will establish the data framework for the registry to utilize AI/ML to show patterns in diabetes incidence, prevalence, mortality, and comorbidities among the diverse ethnic groups in Guam at present and over time.

“A registry will help identify vulnerable groups and unique influential risk factors that will inform community programs and guide research,” said Dr. Tanisha F. Aflague, a registered dietitian nutritionist, associate professor of nutrition at UOG, and the pilot project’s principal investigator.

The long-term goal of DISEHA is to harness the potential of AI/ML data science to reduce the health disparity of type 2 diabetes and reduce comorbidities in high-risk populations in Guam. The project will help identify social determinants of health as well as reveal opportunities to improve health care and create locally relevant prevention and management programs.

“In the CHamoru language, ‘diseha’ means to wish, hope, or dream, and through this project we aim to achieve the dream of using technology to streamline methods for tracking diabetes on our island,” Aflague said.

She has enlisted the Diabetes Foundation of Guam as co-investigators and Engracia “Grace” Valencia as data manager. The DISEHA research team has engaged community partners and private/public stakeholders to conduct the study.

The Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program is funded by the National Institutes of Health, Agreement No. 1OT2OD032581-01, to the University of North Texas Health Science Center. More information is available at https://www.aim-ahead.net.