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AI Grants Aim to Supercharge Pediatric Care Innovation

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   July 09, 2024

AWS is providing $10 million in grants to health systems and hospitals for pediatric research using AI and the company’s cloud storage platform.

Three pediatric health systems are receiving $1 million each to support ongoing programs using AI and cloud computing to improve children’s healthcare.

Children’s National Hospital in Washington D.C., Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s (CHOP’s) Children’s Brain Tumor Network are receiving donations from Amazon Web Services as part of the retail giant’s $10 million philanthropic commitment to pediatric care innovation. Another $7 million will be distributed through the AWS IMAGINE Grant program to healthcare organizations “for projects that accelerate pediatric research, advance maternal child total health, and/or empower the pediatric workforce and caregivers.”

The announcement underscores the hype surrounding AI in healthcare and the efforts by tech companies to partner with health systems for long-term projects that require lots of data storage. Health systems and hospitals are hampered in developing AI programs because of the cost of storing and moving around data, and these partnerships can give them the leeway to improve research and develop new programs.

Adam Resnick, director of CHOP’s Center for Data Driven Discovery in Biomedicine, said AI can be a vital factor in developing treatments for pediatric cancers, which make up less than 1% of all cancers diagnosed annually in the U.S.

“(D)espite being a rare disease, pediatric cancers truly provide a unique proving ground for new technology because of their dependency on real-time discovery and collaborative networks,” he said in the AWS press release announcing the awards.

Research on pediatric diseases and treatments is often limited because of the size of the patient population. Most studies are small-scale and limited, and the pharma industry has little incentive to pursue treatments. In fact, innovation in pediatric care is often based on adult models that are adapted to fit children, with less-than-optimal results.

AWS is banking on its considerable could storage resources to improve what it calls the sandbox in the cloud, giving healthcare providers access to large amounts of de-identified and anonymized data to improve research.

“What’s driving discovery, in the most immediate term, is enabled by the cloud,” Elaine Mardis, PhD, co-executive director of the Steve and Cindy Rasmussen Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Abigail Wexner Research Institute, said in the AWS release.

With so many organizations engaged in AI these days, a key question moving forward will be how health systems and hospitals share that information, and which processes are proprietary. That may be where value is determined.

“What we really want to do is make rare cancers less rare by providing this comprehensive information to those who really want to investigate for a variety of discovery-based goals,” Mardis added.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation at HealthLeaders.


Research into treatments for children’s diseases is often small and siloed, with limited interest in support from the pharma industry.

Amazon Web Services is issuing three $1 million grants and offering $7 million in additional grants to health systems and hospitals using AI and cloud storage to improve pediatric care.

The program is the latest in a string of healthcare-retail partnerships aimed at using tech companies’ resources to propel AI innovation.

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