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IMAGES: NITZAN ZOHAR; GETTY


TECHNION – ISRAEL INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY


AI meets Covid-19 research


The issue of how to interpret the vast quantities of medical data available today is something Joachim Behar, a French PhD biomedical engineer, is trying to resolve


While recording and transmitting medical data is now easier than ever, this wealth of figures has rarely translated into actionable information. Why? Despite modern technological advances, we still lack algorithms that can efficiently make sense of patterns encrypted within big databases and organize them into useful information. It’s this issue that scientist Joachim Behar


hopes to solve at Technion’s Artificial Intelligence in Medicine Lab (AIMLab), researching innovative pattern-recognition algorithms to create novel and intelligent monitoring systems. With an international team of 13 researchers — nine of whom are graduate students — Behar implements different AI methods into medical processes, focusing his research projects on newly explored areas in various fields — from sleep medicine and cardiology to OBGYN and coronaviruses.


Caring for patients Working alongside fellow French scientist Jeremy Levy, Behar has developed PhysioZoo, an algorithm that’s able to look into data provided by a pulse oximeter — a medical instrument that estimates the saturation of oxygen in the blood — to offer better care to Covid-19 patients. The biomarkers provided by these little devices, which can show when and how a disease is


20 Israeli Academia | 2021


operating in the body, are extremely useful in preventative medicine. For those already suffering from Covid-19, the question isn’t diagnostic but rather prognostic — what will happen to them? And how can they be helped? PhysioZoo might have the answer: taking data from oximeters over several hours, it can theoretically predict if Covid-19 symptoms will turn into pneumonia — a discovery that could help influence decisions about patient care.


Creating Covid-19 AI The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted to Behar’s team the need for a resource that could rapidly, efficiently and securely transfer and use anonimized medical data from Israeli hospitals. Data collected from the local population could help identify population-specific risk factors for developing diseases and becoming critically ill as well as monitor the long-term consequences of recovered patients. From creating a dynamic Covid-19 medical data record to studying the long-term effect of the virus and reviewing the effect of the pandemic on remote health monitoring, Behar hopes this new project will allow for a faster and better response to current global challenges as well as potential future disease epidemics.


59 out of Israel’s 121 NASDAQ-listed companies are led and/or were founded by Technion alumni


ABOVE: Dr. Behar Joachim PREVIOUS PAGE: Prof. Shulamit Levenberg at Technion


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