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IBM, NYC hospital training Watson in cancer

March 22, 2012 - 16:12 By

WHITE PLAINS, New York (AP) _ The medical training of IBM's speedy Watson computer will continue with a residency at a renowned Manhattan cancer hospital.

FILE - This Jan. 13, 2011 photo provided by IBM shows the computer system known as Watson at IBM's research center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. The medical training of IBM's speedy Watson computer will continue with a residency at Memorial Sloan-Kettering to help doctors diagnose and treat cancer. (AP-Yonhap News)

IBM and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center said Thursday that they will add the latest in oncology research _ and the hospital's accumulated experience _ to Watson's vast knowledge base, and keep updating it.

The result should help the hospital diagnose and treat cancer more quickly, accurately and personally, they said.

``The capabilities are enormous,'' said Dr. Larry Norton, deputy chief for breast cancer programs at Sloan-Kettering. ``And unlike my medical students, Watson doesn't forget anything.''

Watson won fame by beating the world's best players in ``Jeopardy!'' _ a televised quiz show requiring knowledge in history, literature, the arts and culture. Applying its speed and language skills to medicine was a longtime goal at IBM, and Watson went to work last year for the health insurer Wellpoint Inc.

The training at Sloan-Kettering will take time, and it may be the end of next year before patients at the hospital are benefiting from Watson's speed and depth, said Dr. Martin Kohn, chief medical scientist at IBM. If successful, the finished product could be used anywhere in the world to aid cancer treatment.

Kohn said there's a rule of thumb that it takes 15 years for breakthroughs in medicine to be disseminated around the world.

``So any process that can help get valuable information about choices and treatment out into general use more rapidly obviously is an improvement,'' he said.

IBM said it was still focused on the project's development and was undecided about how to market it. It said both IBM and the hospital had invested in the plan but would not disclose specifics.

Watson will be fed textbooks, medical journals and _ with permission _ individual medical records. Then it will be tested with more and more complicated cancer scenarios and assessed with the help of an advisory panel, Kohn said. It's expected to speedily suggest diagnoses and recommend treatments, ranking several alternatives.

The computer's grasp of the scientific literature _ and its ability to find the right passage in seconds _ will help doctors keep up with the ever-expanding amount of available information, the doctors said.

But Norton said it's the patient records at Sloan-Kettering _ with plain-language notations that Watson can understand _ that will add ``wisdom'' to what the computer learns.

The hospital, founded in 1884, says it's the world's oldest and largest private cancer center.

``Because of our size and experience, we have super-specialized physicians in every field of cancer,'' Norton said. ``And all of what they actually do is capturable in the language of our electronic medical records.

``You boil together knowledge and sophistication and experience and what you have is wisdom,'' Norton said. ``No one's ever captured wisdom before in a way that can facilitate medical decision making.''

Watson can even be instructed about individual patient preferences, Kohn said. When evaluating treatments, for example, it could take into account that a patient feels strongly about not losing her hair.

``Or a patient says, `My daughter is getting married in six months. No matter what, I have to live that long,''' Kohn said. ``Then that influences the treatment.''


<한글 기사>

퀴즈왕 물리친 슈퍼컴 왓슨, 의사된다

IBM-美 암센터 업무협약…광범위한 자료 분석 기대

퀴즈쇼에서 능력을 발휘한바 있는 미국 IBM사의 슈퍼컴퓨터 왓슨(Watson)이 암 진단과 치료에 활용될 예정이다.

IBM과 뉴욕 소재 메모리얼 슬로안 케터링 암센터는 22일(현지시간) 왓슨이 대량의 자료를 토대로 새 정보를 찾아내는 데이터 마이닝(mining)을 통해 의사들의 암 진단 및 치료방법 선택을 돕는 내용의 업무협약을 체결했다고 AP와 블룸버그통신이 보도했다.

슬로안 케터링 암센터의 래리 노턴 박사는 왓슨 컴퓨터를 활용하면 암 진단과 치료가 더욱 빠르고 정확해질 것이라고 기대를 표시했다.

IBM의 의료과학 담당 마틴 콘 박사는 "왓슨의 활용으로 슬로안 케터링 병원의 환자들이 혜택을 보려면 내년 말까지 기다려야 할지 모른다"면서 "성공적인 결말이 나오면 전 세계의 암 치료에 사용될 수 있을 것"이라고 밝혔다.

왓슨은 지난해 퀴즈쇼 '제퍼디'에 출연해 퀴즈왕들을 물리쳤으며 건강보험회사인 웰포인트사의 업무를 지원하는 일을 수행하고 있다.

왓슨의 자료 처리속도와 언어 이해 능력을 의료분야에 적용하는 것은 IBM의 오랜 목표였다.

콘 박사는 왓슨에 텍스트북, 의학저널, 허용된 개인 의료 기록 등의 자료와 복잡한 암 시나리오를 입력할 것이라며 암 진단 및 치료 방안이 빠르게 제시될 것으로 기대한다고 말했다.

IBM은 2015년 자료분석 비즈니스로 160억달러의 수입을 올린다는 목표를 세워놓고 있으며 이 가운데 일부를 왓슨이 담당할 예정이다.

왓슨을 활용키로 한 슬로안 케터링 암센터는 1884년에 세워진 세계에서 가장 오래되고 규모가 큰 민간 암 전문병원이다.