Interdisciplinary Faculty Team Awarded Grant for Research on AI Applied to Health Equity

Date: December 13, 2023


Left-to-right: Sambit Bhattacharya, Ph.D., Jamil Norman, Ph.D., Angela McLaurin, Ph.D., Jiazheng Yuan, Ph.D.



FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.– A team of faculty from multiple departments received a $100,000 grant from the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) Consortium to Advance Health Equity and Researcher Diversity (AIM-AHEAD) to increase research capacity in AI applied to Health Equity.

The funding was provided under AIM-AHEAD’s Program for Artificial Intelligence Readiness (PAIR). Faculty members from computer science, biology and nursing are collaborating with the PAIR program to develop research capabilities that can transform Health Equity through novel applications of AI.

"Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the enabling technology of the 21st century and it has transformed, and continues to transform, many aspects of our lives,” said Sambit Bhattacharya, Ph.D., full professor of Computer Science and principal investigator for the research project. “AI has high potential for improving Health Equity by analyzing large and complex health care datasets to combat disparities in minority healthcare.”

Collaborating with Bhattacharya are co-investigators Jiazheng Yuan, Ph.D, associate professor and assistant chair of the Biology and Forensic Science department and nursing faculty members Angela McLaurin, Ph.D, and Jamil Norman, Ph.D.

The team’s Phase I, Increasing Capacity in Health Equity through Use-Inspired Research in Artificial Intelligence, will focus on creating the foundation for establishing a comprehensive network of prominent scholars and experienced practitioners. The network will collaboratively participate in workshops and symposia to delineate specific research thrusts, pinpoint existing gaps in research, understand the current state of research infrastructure and discern technological methods that can be employed.

Creating this network is the catalyst for establishing an AI Lab on Health Equity.

Focusing on minority populations and other communities that often face disadvantages is a pivotal aspect of this initiative. “Using AI to connect people to community resources can also help to decrease health disparities,” Bhattacharya said.

The primary funder of the AIM-AHEAD consortium is the National Institutes of Health.

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