The Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research
The Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research is a focused research initiative striving towards improved prediction and prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The Institute was made possible through a donation by Åland businessman Anders Wiklöf. The Institute brings together experts in cardiovascular diseases, computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), statistics, innovation, and the administration and accessibility of medical data.
Sweden is a country with unique potential for medical big data research. We have world-leading medical registries that cover the entire population and span further back in time than most other countries. We have a long tradition of large cohort studies with voluntary participants who have been followed for decades. We have single-payer healthcare in which all citizens participate, and we were early adopters of the use of electronic medical records.
The Institute is running a national initiative to coordinate all of the cohort studies in Sweden in a joint digital administration system with the aim of enabling world-leading research. A pilot study of the infrastructure, which involved almost one million Swedes, led to the discovery of new causes of subarachnoid haemorrhage, an unusual but serious form of stroke. Research is now underway on even larger datasets in the search for causes of other cardiovascular diseases. In another study, researchers coordinated and collected blood samples from a large number of European cohort studies, and are now investigating molecules that can be used to detect an impending heart attack months before it occurs. The Institute is also conducting research on digital care data, sensor data, images and patient-generated data, all with the aim of using AI to be able to predict future diagnoses and care needs. AI methods require large datasets that need a lot of processing by experts across several disciplines in order to be useful. They also require storage and accessibility that meets the most stringent requirements in terms of security and accuracy.
The Institute shares its space with the University’s AI initiative AI4research. This interdisciplinary initiative now has the opportunity to utilise the fantastic datasets that are unique to Sweden in order to improve the healthcare sector’s ability to predict and prevent cardiovascular diseases.