UCD team using AI to help diagnose preeclampsia toxaemia wins a SFI Future Innovator Prize

Posted 5 August, 2021

A project at University College Dublin addressing the significant challenge of diagnosing preeclamptic toxaemia (PET), one of the world’s deadliest pregnancy complications, has been awarded a SFI Future Innovator Prize.

AI_PREMie uses cutting-edge biomedical, clinical and machine learning techniques to analyse a combination of biomarker signals and clinically relevant maternal data, to provide a straightforward assessment of pregnancies at risk of PET complications, thereby helping to prevent unnecessary adverse outcomes for mothers and babies.

PET is a serious complication affecting one in every 10 pregnancies, and annually kills 50,000 mothers and 500,000 babies worldwide.

The AI_PREMie team led by Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, includes Dr Paulina Szklanna, and Professor Mary Higgins and Professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, UCD School of Medicine.

Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Simon Harris TD, together with Minister of State for Overseas Development and Diaspora, Colm Brophy TD, awarded the project a SFI Future Innovator Prize of €500,000 under the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Societal Good Challenge.

“The AI_PREMie project team and I are absolutely delighted and honoured to receive this special prize in recognition of our new AI-powered risk stratification platform for preeclampsia,” said Professor Maguire.

“Advancing both foetal and women’s health is of paramount importance and developing these tools will place Ireland at the global forefront in preventing unnecessary adverse outcomes for mothers and their babies, priority goals under the UN SDGs.”

Addeding: “It has been an honour to work with such an incredible interdisciplinary team collaborating with all three Dublin maternity hospitals, and SFI’s innovative challenge-based funding process has really enabled us to further this important project to reality."

The biomarkers which can be used to diagnose preeclampsia risk were discovered using a novel non-invasive blood-based diagnostics platform (PALADIN) developed by Professor Maguire.

Earlier this year she and her team were awarded with the 2021 NovaUCD Invention of the Year Award for this discovery.

Professor Mark Ferguson, Director General, Science Foundation Ireland and Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government of Ireland said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to the runners up, Prof Patricia Maguire and the AI_PREMie team, for the important work they are doing in advancing foetal health and women’s health with their state-of-the-art diagnostic application.”

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations (with materials from Micéal Whelan, UCD Research and Innovation)