Voice as a Biomarker of Health Project (Led by Toufeeq Ahmed) Seeks to Use Patients’ Voices to Help Diagnose Disease

A national databank of de-identified voices, combined with artificial intelligence, could lead to diagnosing and treating cancer, depression, autism, Alzheimer’s disease and voice disorders.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is partnering with 11 institutions on a $14 million NIH-funded project led by the University of South Florida and Weill Cornell Medicine that aims to establish voice as a biomarker used in clinical care.

Called Voice as a Biomarker of Health, the project is one of several recently funded by the NIH Common Fund’s Bridge2AI program, designed to use AI to tackle complex biomedical challenges.

The voice project will build an ethically sourced, de-identified database of diverse human voices.

Powell, who was named principal investigator for the project’s Plan for Enhancing Diverse Perspectives (PEDP), is leading this project with co-investigator Toufeeq Ahmed, PhD, MS, assistant professor of Biomedical Informatics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, to promote diversity in team recruitment, patient representation and educational programs.

Ahmed brings expertise and leadership to this project from his efforts leading, as principal investigator, the AIM-AHEAD (Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity) program, created to enhance participation and representation of researchers and communities underrepresented in the development of AI/ML models and to address health disparities and inequities.

“It is critical for AI projects to consider inclusion, diversity and equity in participant recruitment, data collection practices, AI algorithm and model development, and researcher diversity to advance scientific innovation and biomedical research through the inclusion of all voices,” Ahmed said.

Read more in the VUMC Reporter.