Western Digital partnered with the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Centre to provide the storage foundation needed to scale and store critical research data focused on improving the accuracy of cancer detection from mammography scans.

The University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Centre’s AI Precision Health Institute (AI-PHI) has deployed Western Digital’s Ultrastar Data60 Hybrid Storage Platform filled with 720TB of Ultrastar hard disk drives (HDDs).

The organisation is leveraging this data to run artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and deep learning to assess human health and predict the risk of disease to help relieve the increasing prevalence of cancer in the Pacific region.

“AI has changed everything in terms of how we addressed problems with big data,” says John Shepherd, Ph.D, founder of the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Centre’s AI-PHI. “When you’re going to examine six million images, it takes a lot of time. With fast and reliable access to large amounts of data and the power of AI, you can say ‘Okay, there’s an outcome difference between these two images, which may ultimately help us pick out the women that may develop cancer versus those that don’t.

“We are extremely grateful for our partnership with Western Digital, who helps make this all possible with its highly reliable and scalable storage solutions.”

AI-PHI’s mammogram database holds the Hawaiʻi Pacific Island Mammography Registry, which is specifically focused on women in Hawaiʻi, including native Hawaiian women who statistically fare worse with breast cancer compared to nearly every other ethnic group.

With improved performance, ample capacity, and hundreds of terabytes of fast storage provided by Western Digital, researchers have a constant, quick flow of access to large amounts of data needed for AI workflows. This helps them as they work to develop, curate and share the massive and diverse medical datasets for cancer research to solve this unique problem for women in Hawaiʻi, and other women around the world.

“Because of the uniqueness of Hawaiʻi, we have this really broad demographic of ethnicities, races, BMIs, and cultures, that if you train an AI model with that broad amount of data, it should deliver models that are useful anywhere in the world,” adds Dr Shepherd.

“The work Dr Shepherd is spearheading at the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center’s AI Precision Health Institute is a powerful example of how data is being used to drive insights that lead to breakthrough discoveries, enabling the world to solve its biggest challenges,” says Kurt Chan, vice-president and GM: data centre platforms at Western Digital. “We are thrilled to contribute the storage foundation that provides fast and easy access to the data that helps enable these researchers to glean insights and understanding, and ultimately help save lives.”

In an ongoing collaboration to support this important cause, the University of Hawaiʻi Cancer Center plans to extend its storage foundation in partnership with Western Digital with the addition of an OpenFlex open composable infrastructure solution, and Ultrastar NVMe solid state drives (SSDs).

More efficient workflows and flexible collaboration provided by the new solutions will aid AI-PHI in its latest research focused on validating new AI cancer risk and detection models and developing advanced health analysis AI models through non-invasive methods.

These include 3D full body-scans, dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans for body composition, blood tests for metabolic markers, and strength assessments.