NEW ORLEANS – Researchers and clinicians in the growing field of customizing heart disease and stroke treatments for each patient will soon join together to access and analyze more of what they need most – massive amounts of information.

The American Heart Association and Amazon Web Services announced Sunday the creation of the AHA Precision Medicine Platform, a cloud-based marketplace for sharing the data that scientists use as fuel in the fight against cardiovascular diseases, the No. 1 killer in the world.

“The Precision Medicine Platform is going to be a game-changer for researchers,” said Dr. Eric Peterson, Executive Director of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, which oversees the world’s oldest and largest cardiovascular database.

Here’s how the Platform will work:

  • It starts with accumulating rich and diverse data sets.

The AWS cloud will host a secure database filled with health information gathered from clinical research trials, long-running epidemiologic studies, clinical registries, cohort studies and wearable devices and other personal technology. Researchers from around the world are submitting their data. A prerequisite for all data is that all participant personal identification information is removed

  • Next comes finding solutions.

Using AWS tools, researchers and clinicians will be able to sift through the treasure trove of data to discover new patterns and new solutions to unsolved problems. For instance, researchers can quickly select data on individuals, groups or populations according to their risk of cardiovascular and hypothesized response to treatment.

  • Ultimately, there will be results and solutions – and they could be life-changing and lifesaving for millions of people.

By aggregating, integrating and analyzing these large pools of data, the acceleration factor for scientists could uncover underlying factors that cause cardiovascular diseases, define new targets for therapy, or identify biomarkers that can be used as diagnostic and research tools.  An idea could turn into a breakthrough faster than before. It’s all part of working toward the ultimate goal of precision cardiovascular medicine: preventing and-or treating diseases based on each person’s unique genetics, environment and lifestyle.

Dr. Joseph Wu, Director of the Stanford Cardiovascular Institute said he’s glad to be part of a project that breaks scientists out of their usual environment of working in silos and rarely sharing methods and materials.

“The Precision Medicine Platform is like everybody is invited to the same party; all the data, tools and researchers are under one roof,” Wu said.

AHA and AWS logos

The AHA launched its Institute for Precision Cardiovascular Medicine in 2014, committing $30 million over five years while seeking $100 million to keep it going. The Institute is the only organization dedicated exclusively to advancing precision medicine for heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular care.

Earlier this year, the AHA announced a nearly $5 million initiative in partnership with AWS to fund more than a dozen data research grants to power the Institute. The announcement of the Precision Medicine Platform builds on that relationship.

“Organizations from around the globe are already utilizing the AWS cloud to make their data open and available to the public,” said Teresa Carlson, Vice President Worldwide Public Sector, AWS, Inc. “We at AWS can offer our expertise at activating the immense computational and analytical power necessary to manage an information ecosystem of this magnitude.”

New Orleans, LA - AHA 2016 Scientific Sessions - AHA CEO Nancy Brown during the D3-Research Legacy: OPS.01 - Opening Session, launch of My Research Legacy during Opening Session here today, Sunday November 13, 2016 at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions being held here at the Ernest Morial Convention Center. Scientific Sessions is the leading cardiovascular meeting for basic, translational, clinical and population science, in the United States, with more than 19,000 cardiovascular experts from over 105 countries attending the meeting. Photo by © AHA/Phil McCarten 2016, LIVE: D3-Research Legacy

AHA CEO Nancy Brown

The information will come from leading healthcare and research organizations such as Stanford Cardiovascular Institute; pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca; and the Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Users will upload their data and will have access to information gathered by others. A give-and-take spirit of cooperation is expected to develop among the community of researchers.

“We are changing the way research is done and believe the Precision Medicine Platform is what’s needed to establish a new paradigm for scientific collaboration,” said Nancy Brown, CEO of the AHA.

Other early adopters include:

  • Cedars Sinai Heart Institute, a Los Angeles-based facility with 16 centers and programs for heart patients.
  • Dallas Heart Study, a multi-ethnic, population-based study of 6,101 adults run by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
  • Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, a Utah-based nonprofit system of 22 hospitals and 185 clinics.
  • International Stroke Genetics Consortium, more than 200 researchers from 50-plus nations working toward a better understanding of the genetic basis of stroke.

Data contributors agree to provide additional information as needed to requesters to uphold the depth and detail within the datasets. The AHA data technology committee assists with the governance policies with all data contributors

Researchers will not be charged for accessing the data, but will be charged to use the powerful computing capabilities of the Platform using a pay-as-you-go plan based on consumption; similar to the AWS model used currently around the globe.

Organizations in the partnership are excited about the platform, and the endless possibilities that can stem from it.

“We owe this to the patient and the investigators who have helped us build this database,” said Dr. Fouzia Laghrissi Thode, Vice President GPPS Therapy Area, Cardiovascular & Metabolism, AstraZeneca. “It’s our way to give back to the academic community and scientific community what they have given to us.”