Owkin and Nantes University Hospital (CHU Nantes) to Advance Cancer Research with Artificial Intelligence


Tags: Partnership / ML


Date:October 16th, 2020


Owkin and Nantes University Hospital (CHU Nantes) to Advance Cancer Research with Artificial Intelligence

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October 19th 2020, New York and Nantes, France - Owkin, a startup that deploys AI and Federated Learning technologies to augment medical research and enable scientific discoveries, announces a collaboration with Nantes University Hospital (CHU de Nantes). This engagement leverages CHU de Nantes’ high-quality datasets and world-class medical research, as well as Owkin’s pioneering technologies and research platform. Collaborations such as these have the potential to advance clinical research and drug development.

Among researchers at the CHU de Nantes, Pr Brigitte Dréno head of the dermatology medical department will team up with Owkin to develop and validate machine learning models on the RIC-Mel database in order to better understand and predict the evolution of nevi into diagnosed melanomas. This first project on melanomas is a starter, indeed AI technology and collaboration with OWKIN will be extended to other medical fields such as oncology, haematology and chronic diseases.

Philippe EL SAIR, CHU de Nantes General Director, said:

CHU de Nantes intends to be an hospital at the forefront in this field and is proud of this partnership with Owkin which is a pioneer firm in artificial intelligence.

This represents the second collaboration between Owkin and CHU de Nantes. The two previously partnered in 2019 as part Healthchain, an AI consortium aimed at launching an open-source AI research platform. Through these partnerships, CHU de Nantes is part of our federated network of US and European academic medical centres that collaborate with Owkin to generate new insights from high-quality, curated, research-grade, multimodal patient data captured in clinical trials or research cohorts. Network-generated insights can inform pharmaceutical drug development strategy, from biomarker discovery to clinical trial design, and product differentiation. Owkin seeks to create a movement in medicine by establishing federated learning at the core of future research.

Federated learning technologies enable researchers in different institutions and different geographies to collaborate and train multicentric AI models on heterogeneous datasets, resulting in better predictive performance and higher generalizability. Data does not move, only the algorithms travel, thus protecting an institution’s data governance and privacy. Furthermore, Owkin’s data use is compliant with local ethical body consent processes and data compliance regulations such as HIPAA and GDPR.

Meriem Sefta, Chief Diagnostics Officer at Owkin, said:

We are so excited to work with the CHU Nantes, a prestigious institution with a lot of expertise in AI and data management. The integration of our products and technology with their existing expertise and infrastructure will bring a very reactive strike force to tackle pressing challenges in melanoma.

About Owkin

Owkin is a French-American startup that uses artificial intelligence to find the right treatment for every patient. Our focus is to use AI to discover and develop better treatments for unmet medical needs, starting with the fight against cancer.

We use AI to identify new drug candidates, de-risk and accelerate clinical trials and build diagnostic tools that improve patient outcomes. Using federated learning, a pioneering collaborative AI framework, Owkin enables medical and biopharma partners to unlock valuable insights from siloed datasets while protecting patient privacy and securing proprietary data. 

Owkin was co-founded by Thomas Clozel MD, a former assistant professor in clinical onco-hematology, and Gilles Wainrib, a pioneer in the field of machine learning in biology, in 2016. Owkin has raised over $300 million and became a unicorn through a $180 million investment from biopharma company Sanofi in November 2021.

About CHU de Nantes

Nantes University Hospital (CHU Nantes), the 6th largest French university hospital, provides high-quality comprehensive health services. Among the top research institutions in France, CHU de Nantes focuses on excellence and innovation. Nantes University Hospital participates each year in about 2,000 clinical trials, involving approximately 13,000 patients, leading to over 1,200 publications in peer-reviewed journals. Over the years, CHU de Nantes has developed numerous research partnerships with SMEs and major actors of the biotech and MedTech industry. We believe opening up to our ecosystem is a real game-changer for the development of innovations for the benefit of patients and health professionals.