Enabling AI-driven health advances without sacrificing patient privacy

There’s a lot of excitement at the intersection of artificial intelligence and health care. AI has already been used to improve disease treatment and detection, discover promising new drugs, identify links between genes and diseases, and more.

By analyzing large datasets and finding patterns, virtually any new algorithm has the potential to help patients — AI researchers just need access to the right data to train and test those algorithms. Hospitals, understandably, are hesitant to share sensitive patient information with research teams. When they do share data, it’s difficult to verify that researchers are only using the data they need and deleting it after they’re done.

Secure AI Labs (SAIL) is addressing those problems with a technology that lets AI algorithms run on encrypted datasets that never leave the data owner’s system. Health care organizations can control how their datasets are used, while researchers can protect the confidentiality of their models and search queries. Neither party needs to see the data or the model to collaborate.

SAIL’s platform can also combine data from multiple sources, creating rich insights that fuel more effective algorithms.

“You shouldn’t have to schmooze with hospital executives for five years before you can run your machine learning algorithm,” says SAIL co-founder and MIT Professor Manolis Kellis, who co-founded the company with CEO Anne Kim ’16, SM ’17. “Our goal is to help patients, to help machine learning scientists, and to create new therapeutics. We want new algorithms — the best algorithms — to be applied to the biggest possible data set.”

SAIL has already partnered with hospitals and life science companies to unlock anonymized data for researchers. In the next year, the company hopes to be working with about half of the top 50 academic medical centers in the country.

Unleashing AI’s full potential

As an undergraduate at MIT studying computer science and molecular biology, Kim worked with researchers in the Computer Science and

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