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UCD maternity project wins at Analytics & AI Awards 2023

Thursday, 31 August, 2023

A project led by University College Dublin that uses artificial intelligence to diagnose the dangerous pregnancy condition preeclampsia has today won the Social Impact Award at the Analytics Institute of Ireland AI And Analytics Awards. 

This award, which recognises a project, organisation or initiative that uses data analytics and/or AI for the benefit of society, was presented to members of the AI_PREMie team at a black tie gala event in Dublin’s Mansion House.

“My colleague Ana Le Chevalier and I were privileged to accept this award on behalf of the team,” said project lead Professor Patricia Maguire.  

“We would like to thank the Analytics Institute of Ireland, its CEO Lorcan Malone and Technology Ireland DIGITAL Skillnet for sponsoring the award.” 

Prof Maguire adds:

“AI_PREMie is a new test that will accurately risk-stratify preeclampsia and facilitate early intervention by the clinicians before severe complications occur. This award is another step in the right direction to drive forward our team’s mission to get our new test for preeclampsia to everyone who needs it across the world. ”

Preeclampsia is a devastating disease that affects about one in every 10 pregnancies and annually claims the lives of more than 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies. Another 5 million babies are born prematurely due to preeclampsia every year. 

“These deaths happen because there is no screening test for preeclampsia. The only cure right now is to actually deliver the baby which unfortunately sometimes can be very preterm. Preeclampsia is also notoriously difficult to diagnose. Using artificial intelligence and machine learning we have discovered a new way to find diagnostics in the blood.”

AI_PREMie is currently being piloted in the three Dublin maternity hospitals, capturing 50% of all Irish births. 

The team’s societal champion, Prof Mary Higgins, is a Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street.

“I was asked to participate because I provide care to women who have been affected by early onset preeclampsia. This includes women whose babies have died and women who have been very sick. They've gone from a perfectly normal pregnancy to a life-changing experience which will affect their families for the rest of their lives. And also in a personal capacity I had preeclampsia myself so that's why it's something that is really meaningful to me. My daughter was born at 31 weeks, a week after Christmas, in 2004. She spent seven weeks in the intensive care unit. You think as a doctor you're going to be immune to preeclampsia, which is ridiculous because it can affect anybody.”

Shortlisted in the same category as AI_PREMie were submissions from Optum, QuantumBlack AI by McKinsey and the Education Authority of Northern Ireland. The awards ceremony was organised by the (opens in a new window)Analytics Institute, which supports the data science and analytics sector by providing a platform to its members to share insights and expertise - and to collaborate and build networks. 

Hosted by broadcaster Sile Seoige, the annual awards are designed to celebrate the best and brightest in the AI and data analytics industry.

AI_PREMie previously won the NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award and was awarded challenge funding from Science Foundation Ireland.