Continued support for data-based cardiac research

EKG-skärm i sjukhusmiljö

The Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research has been able to develop AI methods for interpreting ECGs and identifying cardiac infarctions, among other things. Photo: Getty Images

Businessman Anders Wiklöf from the Åland Islands has made another generous donation to Uppsala University’s research in cardiovascular diseases. The donation will provide continued targeted support for the University’s heart research based on data from large-scale health data sources and artificial intelligence.

Sweden is a country with wholly unique opportunities for medical big data research. This is thanks to the information collected in our world-leading medical registers that cover the entire population, digitalised healthcare data systems, and a long tradition of large population studies with voluntary participants who have been followed for decades.

Porträtt av Johan Sundström

Johan Sundström, hjärtläkare och professor iepidemiologi. Foto: Mikael Wallerstedt

The Director of the Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research is Johan Sundström, a cardiologist and professor of clinical epidemiology. Over the past decade, he has led a national initiative to coordinate all of Sweden’s population studies, with the goal of enabling world-leading cardiovascular research. The new, enormous data sets that researchers have at their disposal require extensive processing by experts in a range of disciplines in order to become useful. New analytical methods are also required, including artificial intelligence (AI).

“Sweden’s solidarity-based healthcare model and national health registers provide unique opportunities, and combined with rich but unstructured medical record data, new methods are needed to fully utilise these opportunities. Above all, we see potential in artificial intelligence and machine learning, a technology where computers learn to solve tasks without being explicitly programmed for them. With the right approach, we can shift the forefront of our entire field,” says Johan Sundström.

AI methods for interpreting ECGs

Thanks to the support from Anders Wiklöf, the Institute has been able to recruit two data scientists to continue the development of AI. With their help, the Institute has been able to develop AI methods for interpreting ECGs and identifying cardiac infarctions, among other things.

“A hard-pressed healthcare system is in great need of new methods to make the right diagnosis and choose the best possible treatment. Thanks to Anders Wiklöf’s generous and long-term support, heart researchers and mathematicians have been able to come together to bring the future into our Swedish hospitals using artificial intelligence and register-based studies. The donation is therefore strategically important for accelerating our research – for the benefit of human health in the Nordic region and globally,” says Anders Hagfeldt, Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University.

Annica Hulth

The donor: Anders Wiklöf

Councillor of Commerce and Honorary Doctor of Economics Anders Wiklöf is an Ålandic businessman and full owner of the Wiklöf Holding group, currently the Nordic countries’ largest sole proprietorship. The group comprises more than 20 companies in such sectors as convenience goods and wholesale trade in the Baltic Sea region, hotels, building and construction, and Skärgårdshavets Helikoptertjänst (SHT), the regional medical and ambulance helicopter company. Wiklöf is also the principal owner of the listed Bank of Åland. In 1989, Wiklöf founded Östersjöfonden (The Baltic Sea Fund).

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