Mount Sinai Launches Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research
First venture launched by an academic medical center to use blockchain to solve health care and medical science problems
The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare today announced the official opening of the Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research. The ambitious venture—the first of its kind at any academic medical center—will place Mount Sinai on the cutting edge of research that uses the technology, a distributed, decentralized secure database system originally developed for Bitcoin, to solve problems in health care and medical science.
The Center for Biomedical Blockchain Research is led by Joel Dudley, PhD, Executive Vice President of Precision Health at Mount Sinai, Mount Sinai Endowed Chair in Biomedical Data Science, Associate Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences, and Director of the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare, along with Noah Zimmerman, PhD, Assistant Professor of Genetics and Genomic Sciences and Director of the Health Data and Design Innovation Center.
Dr. Dudley’s research efforts focus on the application of data-driven approaches and machine intelligence to solve problems in biology and health care. The new center complements Dr. Dudley’s previous work developing predictive health applications from electronic health records, wearables, and related digital health information.
Dr. Zimmerman’s research involves designing data-driven technologies to improve decision-making in health care. Previously, Dr. Zimmerman was the co-founder of a venture backed health-tech startup and served as a data science lead at Pivotal Software, Inc., where he delivered predictive models for multibillion-dollar companies in health care and biotech.
The center’s research will lay the groundwork for its forthcoming industry partnership program for companies looking to develop biomedical blockchain solutions that address problems in both clinical medicine and biomedical research.
“There is a lot of excitement around the possibilities for blockchain technology in health care,” says Dr. Dudley. “However, we still have lots of hard work ahead to identify the most salient features of blockchain technologies to solve real-word health care problems.”
The center will work toward developing health care blockchain applications by:
- Conducting scholarly evaluations of blockchain-enabled solutions;
- Providing partnership and consulting opportunities with companies working on these projects;
- Building and testing its own systems within the Mount Sinai Health System.
“At Mount Sinai, we bring to the table deep expertise in biomedical data, machine learning, and data governance. This experience will allow us to address many of the most promising uses for blockchain in biomedicine with the goal of improving healthcare delivery and reducing costs,” says Dr. Zimmerman.
Numerous companies are already exploring the use of blockchain technologies in biology and health care. These applications include encouraging individual participation in drug development and clinical research trials, expanding access to health insurance products in underserved markets, improving quality control in the pharmaceutical industry to reduce counterfeit drugs, and enhancing research reproducibility.
“There is an opportunity to reimagine how we organize and incentivize individuals and organizations to promote health,” says Dr. Zimmerman. “Our aim is to understand whether blockchain, and associated technologies, can be used to solve open problems in health care and biomedical research.”
“We expect that some early use cases could emerge from areas where existing systems and approaches fall short,” says Dr. Dudley. “The fragmented nature of regional and global health care systems prevents the flow of vital information and creates barriers to access for underserved groups. We see the potential for blockchain and related technologies to enable applications that support more unified health care ecosystems and serve the greater goals of realizing national and global precision health networks.“
About the Institute for Next Generation Healthcare
The Mount Sinai Institute for Next Generation Healthcare is a new model of research, innovation, and market delivery founded in 2016 to expedite and help shape the impending revolution in health care. Our vision of next generation health care harnesses cutting-edge science, technology and analytics to enhance the health and vitality of people everywhere. Transformational technologies including artificial intelligence, robotics, genomic sequencing, sensors and wearable devices, Internet of Things, and cloud computing offer unprecedented opportunities to solve global health challenges. The mission of the institute is to transform the world’s experience of health care through these technologies to create a patient-centered system.
About the Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology, Mount Sinai St. Lukes and Mount Sinai West are ranked 23rd nationally for Nephrology and 25th for Diabetes/Endocrinology, and Mount Sinai South Nassau is ranked 35th nationally for Urology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and Mount Sinai South Nassau are ranked regionally.