The deluge and widespread availability of medical data has created a variety of opportunities for advancing biomedical research, and it is paving the grounds for personalized medicine and next generation medical analytics, fueled by the enormous advancements of modern AI technologies like deep learning. At the same time, the inherent sharing and computation on sensitive information raises serious concerns about individual’s privacy that need to be addressed by inventing disruptive approaches for processing medical information in a trustworthy manner. In particular, efficient yet trustworthy AI techniques are utterly required that enable research and applications based on medical data in compliance with legal and ethical constraints.
The development of such approaches, as well as surrounding frameworks that properly integrate security and privacy particularly in AI-based mechanisms in order to protect the interests of patients, doctors, industry, and research alike in its manifold facets, is a task of sovereign importance, and of vital interest for the Helmholtz Association. While the Helmholtz Association has outstanding expertise in the individual domains of information security, privacy and AI as well as health, no consolidated effort exists to date that explores the intersection of these domains in a principled manner at scale.
We will remedy this situation by establishing the Helmholtz Medical Security, Privacy and AI Research Center (HMSP) – a joint effort between the CISPA Helmholtz Center for Information Security (CISPA), the German Research Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Health (HMGU), the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (HZI), and the Max-Delbrück-Centrum for Molecular Medicine (MDC). All six centers are international renowned institutions in their respective research fields. Their tight collaboration in the context of HMSP will create the nucleus that shapes and structures information security, privacy and AI/machine learning research with medical research with the Helmholtz Association and in the international research landscape, and it will provide a unique asset for Germany in an emerging field of utmost societal importance.
HMSP’s research focuses on disruptive innovations in the field of IT security, privacy and AI in the medical context to enable trustworthy next-generation medical applications and personalized medicine. It particular ranges from the trustworthy processing of large-scale data sets that often contain multimodal information, to the development of appropriate protective mechanisms when data is being disseminated and share, to the in-depth analysis of security and privacy risks for critical software and system components in this domain.
We list a few example topics:
Development of efficient AI/ML-based technologies that enable trustworthy computation on biomedical data, including privacy-respecting discovery of interpretable patterns, structures, correlations and causal relations from sources of heterogeneous quality and trustworthiness.
Investigation of privacy risks induced by the collection, processing and dissemination of various kinds of health information, such as genomic data, microbiome data, fitness data, and medical images.
Investigation of novel computing paradigms for highly efficient, trustworthy distributed computation on large-scale datasets, e.g., by means of memory-driven computing.
Investigation of legal and societal questions associated with the processing of medical data, including the development of, and compliance with, legal frameworks for privacy-friendly data collection and processing, as well as the exploration of corresponding societal agreements.
In addition to scientific impact, we foresee immediate societal impact. We list two examples:
Political consultancy: HMSP will offer to act as a scientific advisor to Germany’s political decision makers with regard to IT security, privacy and AI in the medical domain, and beyond.
Value creation for the German economy: HMSP plans to expand and foster existing industrial partnerships and start-up programs particularly to the field of medical security, privacy and AI.