FBFF 2020 – Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Digital Age: Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Women’s Health Care

On Thursday, January 30, 2020 we held the 10th Annual Dr. Fred Bryans Faculty Forum in the Sheraton Wall Centre in downtown Vancouver. There were who participated.

We started the Forum with two workshops – “Influencing policy (makers) through research” and “Representing patients’ voices in our research”. Dr. Ann Pederson and Dr. Sarah Munro spoke to attendees about the common barriers to implementing best evidence into practice and policy; and led attendees through examples of “Let it happen”; “Help it happen”; “Make it happen”.  Dr. Stirling Bryan from the BC Support Unit shared with our members the BC SUPPORT Unit’s vision for Patient Oriented Research and how to access available resources so that investigators can engage patients in their research.

An overview of the supports and services offered by our BC based research institutes – BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute; Centre for Health Evaluation & Outcome Sciences; Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute; Women’s Health Research Institute – led us into the networking lunch break.

Matthew T Trunnell, Vice President and Chief Data Officer at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Director of Hutch Data Commonwealth, joined us from Seattle for his keynote address “Enabling the Digital Revolution in Health Care: Rethinking How We Think about Data.” Mr. Trunnell first spent some time clarifying Artificial Intelligence (AI) vs machine and deep learning. He went on to discuss the Cascadia Data Discovery Initiative – a collaboration with Fred Hutch, the BC Cancer Agency and others – that is working to overcome barriers to data discovery and data access in health research.

Excellent presentations from our own department members followed. Dr. Mohamed Bedaiwy shared his ongoing work in recurrent pregnancy loss and the emerging role of precision medicine. Dr. Jennifer Hutcheon shared preliminary results from her CIHR funded study “Long-term safety of antenatal corticosteroid administration for child neurodevelopment”.  Dr. Nicole Todd talked about the importance of stakeholder buy-in when planning and implementing your research – stressing her view that research “data is only valuable if it is seen as relevant and useful by prospective users.” Dr.  Ali Bashashati rounded out the first set of faculty presentations by talking about the use of AI in ovarian cancer histopathology.

Following the coffee break, Dr. Sara Houlihan shared the results of the RCT she led “Midurethral sling tensioning (MUST) trial: a comparison of suburethral scissors versus looped babcock technique”. Dr. Regina Renner shared plans for her CIHR funded study “The Canadian abortion provider survey (CAPS)”.  Dr. Aline Talhouk discussed the ethics of data sharing in her pilot project building “LEAP” in endometriosis. Finally, Dr. Jon Havelock and his collaborator from Simon Fraser University, Dr. Parvaneh Saeedi, shared how they are developing automated image analysis and AI to improve IVF outcomes.

It was inspiring to see the diversity of research being carried out in the Department and the productive and supportive collaborations that everyone is engaged in.

We are grateful to the generosity of Dr. Fred and Mrs. Jane Bryans for providing us with the opportunity to share research and ideas across the department. Thank you to everyone who presented and attended.  We also thank all those who also took time to complete the workshop and forum evaluations. Winners of the Amazon gift card are:  Eric Lussier and Regina Renner (workshop evaluations); Jason Au and David Wilkie (forum evaluations).

We look forward to seeing you again in 2021!