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Can AI tackle mental health problems? MBZUAI and IBT join forces to find out

The UAE’s MBZUAI and China’s IBT are partnering to develop evidence-based digital treatments for brain disorders and mental health issues.

Can AI tackle mental health problems? MBZUAI and IBT join forces to find out
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Global mental health problem is disturbing. According to the World Health Organization, one in eight people lives with a mental disorder. Nearly one billion suffer from mental health problems. Currently, around 280 million people suffer from depression, 301 million live with anxiety, and globally more than 24 million people have schizophrenia. As for neurodevelopmental disorders, the worldwide estimates of the prevalence of ADHD are 5-7% of the youth population, and about 1% of children have ASD. 

Without a doubt, these statistics call for much-needed action to enhance mental health and well-being. Now, Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) and Infinite Brain Technologies (IBT) are collaborating to form a joint research lab to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) and develop personalized Digital Therapeutics (DTx) for human brain health. 

DTx is an evidence-based therapeutic intervention built on software solutions to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease. 

The partnership aims to leverage IBT’s expertise in developing and commercializing digital therapeutics with MBZUAI’s aptitude in AI to disrupt brain and mental health treatments eventually.

Founder and Chairman of IBT Dr. Wei Sun commented on how the collaboration will help facilitate advancements. “A better understanding of causal relationships between elements of cognitive training and improvements of mental conditions will provide us with insights to develop precise digital therapeutics for brain health.”

Using AI-based solutions for healthcare is a core element of the university’s research mission, said Dr. Kun Zhang, MBZUAI Deputy Department Chair of Machine Learning and Director of the Centre for Integrative Artificial Intelligence. The collaboration has the potential to increase our understanding of brain health significantly, he added.

Justin Jia, co-founder and CTO of IBT, also expressed his enthusiasm for utilizing both entities’ capabilities. “At IBT, we have a strong data science and engineering team capable of designing, developing, deploying, and scaling digital solutions in a short time. We are excited to join forces with MBZUAI, specifically Dr. Kun Zhang’s team, to work on some of the most advanced topics in machine learning for brain science.” 

According to a press statement, MBZUAI’s machine learning researchers will investigate the development of algorithms that can improve automated cognition, perception, and action, focusing on fundamental and applied research in health, climate, and education.

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