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CHIDS Leads AI/ML Training Efforts in a $50M NIH Award | Maryland Smith – Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business was selected as a key contributor in a $50 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a new effort to enhance diversity in artificial intelligence and machine learning research and initiatives. NIH’s Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) program was created to get more diverse researchers and underrepresented communities involved in the development of AI/ML models to address health disparities and inequities. CHIDS will steer the AI leadership training for healthcare professionals in the Data Science Training Core of AIM-AHEAD.

“This award strengthens the leading position of CHIDS in transforming healthcare using AI/ML,” said Maryland Smith’s Ritu Agarwal, founding director of CHIDS, Special Advisor to the Dean, Distinguished University Professor and Dean’s Chair of Information Systems. “This work fits into the center’s larger mission to leverage technology to improve people’s health. So many underrepresented and underserved communities are disproportionately affected by diseases and health conditions, and if we can get more experts and data from those populations, we can do more for better health outcomes.”

NIH set up the consortium to create better AI/ML models and improve technological capabilities, starting with electronic health records and extending to other data to address health disparities and inequities. With so much data available, researchers have great opportunities to harness data science approaches to improve healthcare. But things like cost, training and resources hinder the widespread adoption of new AI/ML technologies in some communities, leading to a lack of diversity in data and researchers. And that could create and perpetuate harmful biases in practice, algorithms and outcomes, warns NIH – which leads to continued health disparities and inequities.

Agarwal is heading up the CHIDS effort, along with co-director Guodong “Gordon” Gao and senior research scientist Michelle Dugas. Stephen Thomas from the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health, Director of the Maryland Center for Health Equity, is a Co-Investigator. They will work to assess, develop and implement a data science training curriculum for researchers as well as industry professionals.

A group of AIM-AHEAD consortium members – who will have a wide range of expertise and skills relevant to AI/ML and health disparities research – will work together to figure out the best training and workforce development resources to address the diversity gaps.

In addition to AI/ML and health disparities research, the training assessments will consider related fields such as cloud computing, distributed computing, data science, biostatistics modeling, epidemiology, clinical/biomedical information, data science policies, ethics, and health disparities and community-engaged research methods.

The hope is that the AIM-AHEAD training sessions will get early career researchers with diverse backgrounds engaged in AI/ML research, says Gao. Built on the success of the nation’s first AI Leadership for Healthcare Exec Ed program launched by CHIDS at the Smith School, the AIM-AHEAD professional training will cover the relevant skills participants will need for careers in health equity. Offerings will likely include opportunities for the researchers to be involved with AIM-AHEAD projects as well as internships and practical training with private-sector partners.


The Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) is an academic research center based in the Decision, Operations & Information Technologies (DO&IT) department in the Robert H. Smith School of Business, which collaborates closely with industry, government, and other key health system stakeholders. The research at CHIDS seeks to understand how digital technologies can be more effectively deployed to address outcomes such as quality, efficiency in healthcare delivery, patient safety, and a reduction in health disparities. CHIDS offers the benefit of a world-class research staff and renowned scholars in healthcare analytics and modeling, and health information technology design, adoption, and evaluation. CHIDS is a pioneer in the study of digitally enabled health system transformation, widely known for its thought leadership and research collaborations.