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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

IBM and the Cleveland Clinic are launching a 10-year partnership to apply advances in AI, high performance computing in the cloud and quantum computing to research on viral pathogens and drug development.

Why it matters: The effort aims to ease bottlenecks in collecting, storing and analyzing data and speed research on viruses and cancers caused by them.

  • The organizations hope that will spur the development of clinical tools and new treatments for a range of diseases.

"In a data-hungry field like health care, data is becoming the biggest asset to deliver better care for our patients. It is only a matter of time before the field realizes how critical quantum [computing] is to this," says Lara Jehi, a physician and chief research information officer at the Cleveland Clinic.

What's happening: IBM will direct high performance cloud-based computing resources to the Cleveland Clinic's new Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health.

  • IBM also plans to install one of its current quantum computers on-site at the center later this year — the first in the U.S. outside of an IBM facility — to be followed eventually by a more powerful version that is still in development by the company.
  • The Cleveland Clinic and IBM also say they'll focus on educating and training a workforce skilled in data science and quantum computing, which is critical to the development of the technology.

What they're saying: Access to AI and high performance computing will allow clinicians to more quickly understand which therapies work better against specific cancers and to further develop vaccine immunotherapies, Jehi says.

  • The top research priorities are using access to IBM's computing resources for analyzing viral genomes and vaccine development.
  • They also plan to speed the development of tools that can help predict outcomes and treatment courses for people with COVID-19, as well as their risk of developing long-term complications of COVID, she adds.

The big picture: The partnership is also a testbed for efforts to accelerate the pace of scientific discovery using automation, AI, quantum computing and other technologies.

  • Dario Gil, who directs IBM Research, envisions compressing the time and cost of discovery by a factor of 10 using natural language processing to mine scientific literature, simulations to conduct virtual experiments, generative AI models to come up with hypotheses, and robotics to further automate laboratories.
  • "I think we are going to pioneer a new approach to how to do science with deep and profound consequences anywhere you do R&D and scientific discovery," he says.

What to watch: Whether and how new tools, particularly for making clinical care decisions, address sources of bias in data and are fairly used in health care.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenges to Texas abortion law

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear two cases challenging Texas' abortion law, which bans the procedure as soon as six weeks into pregnancy, but left the law in place in the meantime.

Why it matters: The court is moving extraordinarily fast on the Texas cases, compressing into just a few days a process that normally takes months. And that schedule means the court will take up Texas' ban a month before it hears another major abortion case — a challenge to Mississippi's own 2018 ban on abortions after 15 weeks.

Officials warn 5 key tech sectors will determine whether China overtakes U.S.

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. intelligence officials responsible for protecting advanced technologies have narrowed their focus to five key sectors: artificial intelligence, quantum computing, biotechnology, semiconductors and autonomous systems.

Why it matters: China and Russia are employing a variety of legal and illegal methods to undermine and overtake U.S. dominance in these critical industries, officials warned in a new paper. Their success will determine "whether America remains the world’s leading superpower or is eclipsed by strategic competitors."

7 hours ago - Health

Pfizer says COVID vaccine over 90% effective in kids

Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech said their COVID-19 vaccine was more than 90% effective at protecting children between the ages of 5 and 11 from symptomatic infections from the virus, according to a study posted online by the FDA Friday.

Why it matters: Pfizer is seeking an emergency use authorization to vaccinate children — one of the last groups of Americans still largely ineligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine.