Duke Receives Funds for “Big Data”

Duke University www.Duke.edu received $9.75 million for an initiative that is going to focus on harnessing massive amounts of information. Launched in 2013, the Information Initiative at Duke (iiD) http://bigdaa.duke.edu brings faculty and students together to make sense of “Big Data” that is needed to address a wide range of issues.

“The iiD has provided invaluable opportunities for our faculty and students to translate vast amounts of data into major breakthroughs,” according to Duke President Richard H. Brodhead. “This infusion of funds will enable us to continue to advance our understanding of how to convert data into knowledge for human benefit as well as train students in critical skills.”

In the past two years, iiD teams consisting of faculty and students have analyzed and interpreted unending torrents of data captured by computers, cameras, sensors, and smart phones. One project has involved collaborating with Duke Medicine www.dukemedicine.org to deploy personalized healthcare.

The iiD the cornerstone of the Information, Society and Culture theme of Bass Connections http://bassconnections.duke.edu which was launched with a $50 million gift, is another Duke initiative that encourages student and faculty collaborations to work on global issues.

In one Bass Connections project, iiD is working with students and faculty to facilitate screening for autism and childhood mental disorders. By designing algorithms to automatically detect abnormal movements of behaviors captured on the video, the team hopes to provide valuable tools to help clinicians detect symptoms and intervene earlier.

“If we can find patterns in the data that points to just a few simple tests or questions that truly indicate a problem, that would be a tremendous tool for clinicians, said Guillermo Sapiro, a Professor in Engineering and Computer Science who co-leads the project with Duke Child Psychiatrist Dr. Helen Egger.

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