IBM’s Watson to Help Diagnose Cancer

watson, med school, cancerMemorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, home to some the best oncology physicians and researchers on the planet, just added a new member – the IBM Watson supercomputer. In what IBM calls its “first commercially-developed Watson-based breakthrough” the supercomputer will soon be integrated into the hospital’s cancer treatment regimen.

Today’s oncologists are spoiled for information about cancer, constantly pouring in from research all around the globe, but information is no good if you can’t organize it. Watson will help manage Memorial Sloan-Kettering’s database by filtering information and separating out the things that are actually relevant to the patient’s condition. According to IBM, it’ll work something like this: Physicians at the hospital grab a tablet, pull up the patient’s medical records and, in a single click, query Watson about information relevant to the patient’s case.  This information can then be used to tailor a treatment strategy that best suits the patient.

How is this possible? Over the past year, Watson has been attending med school for super computers. Experts at Memorial Sloan-Kettering have trained Watson in subjects like advanced cancer treatments, genetic research, and patient specific gene therapies.  As of this writing, Watson has absorbed the contents of 600,000 diagnostic reports, two million pages of medical journals, one and a half million patient records, and 14,700 hours of hands-on training.

According to Mark Kris, Chief of Thoracic Oncology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, “We believe this strategy can take us one step closer to the goal of personalized care for every person facing cancer treatment.”

Apparently the good Dr. Watson is every bit as sharp as Mr. Sherlock.

See a Detailed Video of How Watson Will Work Below:

Images and Video Courtesy of IBM