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Consortium for AI research launched to combat current and future pandemics

Microsoft Corporation and, a company which specializes in artificial intelligence (AI), have partnered with six US-based universities to form a research consortium in an effort to speed up the digital transformation of governments, societies and businesses.

The consortium titled the Digital Transformation Institute ( DTI) has been working alongside the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University’ University of Chicago, University of Illinois’ Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Carnegie Mellon University and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC. DTI aims to synergize efforts from developers, researchers and scholars to take what society has learnt from the COVID-19 outbreak and to essentially mitigate it effects whilst simultaneously accelerating “knowledge, science and technologies” in an effort to lessen the impacts of potential future pandemics through the use of AI.

The consortium will be jointly managed by UIUC and UC Berkeley.

“We have the opportunity through public-private partnership to change the course of a global pandemic,” said CEO of, Thomas Siebel.

He added, “I cannot imagine a more important use of AI”. DTI has stated that over the next five years, it will support the institute with a cash contribution of around $57,250,000. and Microsoft plan to contribute an addition $310 million as well as their very own technical resources to support the research.

“The Digital Transformation Institute, with its vision of cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaboration, represents an exciting model to help accelerate innovation in this important new field of study,” said Robert Jones, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The outbreak of the novel Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is currently the biggest challenges we are faced with as a society. This will also be the consortium’s first challenge to tackle.

The consortium aims to bring announce bi-annual calls for digital transformation research proposals. Some of the topics which could secure a research award are:

  • Logistics and optimization analysis to improve public health strategies and interventions
  • Genome-specific COVID-19 medical protocols
  • Using machine learning and other AI methods to diminish the spread of COVID-19
  • Drug design and repurposing through biomedical informatics methods
  • Strengthening societal resilience as a result of COVID-19

“ DTI is an important addition to the world’s largest fight against this disease and a powerful new resource in developing solutions to all societal changes,” added Jones.