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6 October 1995

Carnegie Mellon Subcontracts to Allegheny Singer Research Institute In $51 Million Multimedia Medical Database Network Project

PITTSBURGH--Carnegie Mellon University's expertise in video indexing, the ability to search browse and retrieve video material as easily as text, has earned the university a key spot as a subcontractor in a $51 million effort to develop a national multimedia database network for doctors.

The purpose of the project, known as the National Medical Practice Knowledge Banks, is to develop digital libraries that will enable doctors to access the latest medical information and technology from world-renowned experts 24 hours a day, via the Internet or private medical networks.

Carnegie Mellon is working with Allegheny Singer Research Institute (ASRI), the applied research arm of Allegheny General Hospital, which just received a $21 millon grant for the project from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Other partners in the venture include AT&T's Human Interface Technology Center, its Enterprise Solutions and Business Communication Services divisions and InSoft Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pa. The trio will provide an additional $30 million in funds and services to support the Knowledge Bank project.

The five-year effort will involve development of a multimedia repository that can archive, browse, retrieve, index and search data that is in still image, video and audio, as well as in text form. With intermediate project goals that have been set, new technologies could be made available for commercialization every 12-18 months.

The Knowledge Banks will provide centralized repositories for complex medical information--diagnostic indicators, details of preferred treatments or surgical procedures, information a doctor would usually get from an expert consultant.

The first prototype knowledge bank will specialize in neurosurgery. Once it is successful, other prototypes will be developed in oncology and cardiology.

"This project extends Carnegie Mellon's nationally recognized multimedia digital library technology into the medical field," says Stephen E. Cross, director of Carnegie Mellon's Information Technology Center, who is acting as director of information technology research for ASRI. "The project was conceived through efforts by the Allegheny Conference to generate new industries for Pittsburgh, in this case, information on demand."

"This is important for the economic development of our region," says Carnegie Mellon President Robert Mehrabian. "It is another example of how technology developed at Carnegie Mellon can be used as an economic engine by stimulating new industries that hold great promise for our future."

In a letter to President Mehrabian, Allegheny General Hospital President and CEO Anthony M. Sanzo says, "I feel this project is a clear example of the collaboration between our two organizations, which has advanced each organization and has contributed to the welfare of the community."

"Many experts have pointed to the inefficient and archaic handling of medical information, particularly patient records, as one of the most important and most costly bottlenecks in our healthcare system," U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown said when he announced the grants. "The ATP program on Information Infrastructure of Healthcare is the only national effort that directly attacks this problem."

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