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  • INSIGHT communications team

How patients can benefit from AI: INSIGHT in the news after PM visit to Moorfields

Against the backdrop of the AI Safety Summit hosted by the UK Government at Bletchley Park this week, Germany’s national broadcaster ZDF visited Moorfields Eye Hospital to report on how INSIGHT is enabling development of artificial intelligence (AI) tools that could prove life-changing for patients through earlier diagnosis of many diseases.

During the visit, ZDF interviewed Dr Siegfried Wagner, Vitreoretinal TSC Fellow at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Senior Research Fellow at University College London (UCL). Siegfried demonstrated how a routine retinal scan can become a window to a patient’s health when combined with AI algorithms that have been developed to detect early signs of eye disease, as well as systemic disease such as cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s. Although these AI tools are not yet approved for use on patients, the ambition is to make them widely available in the future.

The interview was aired in Germany on ZDF’s Heute in Europa news programme to an estimated audience of around 4 million, as part of the channel’s coverage of the AI Safety Summit.

The German broadcaster’s interest was piqued by last week’s visit to Moorfields by Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, to see first-hand AI discoveries being pioneered by researchers at Moorfields, UCL and University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB). Siegfried demonstrated the group’s work to the Prime Minister, together with Dr Xiao Liu, Senior Clinician Scientist in AI and Digital Health Technologies at the University of Birmingham and Ophthalmologist at UHB. The Prime Minister was particularly interested in RETFound, the world-first AI foundation model in ophthalmology, developed by Professor Pearse Keane’s research group spanning UCL, Moorfields and UHB.

BELOW: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (right) listens to Dr Siegfried Wagner (left) explain how an AI algorithm has been trained to detect disease from a patient's retinal scan, during the Prime Minister's visit to Moorfields Eye Hospital on 26th October, 2023.

Dr Siegfried Wagner said: "We were delighted to share our journey, from building the first deep-learning model for Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) scans, to the building of INSIGHT as the world’s largest bioresource of eye images, to the RETFound AI foundation model. These successes have only been made possible through institutional collaboration across the NHS, academia and industry."
Dr Xiao Liu said: "Underpinning this immense progress in innovation are the principles of responsible AI in healthcare. Through our global leadership in robust scientific practice and regulatory science, we will continue ensuring our work is safe, effective and equitable, and can benefit everyone."

BELOW: Dr Siegfried Wagner (far right) demonstrates how a non-invasive OCT retinal scan is taken on colleague Polly Rawlinson (far left) in a matter of seconds. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak looks on with Dr Xiao Liu.


About Dr Siegfried Wagner: Siegfried is a Vitreoretinal TSC Fellow at Moorfields Eye Hospital and Senior Research Fellow at University College London. His clinical focus is vitreoretinal training, while his research centres on the field of oculomics, telemedicine, and using AI for detection of retinal and other macular diseases. He has been named as a Rising Star in The Ophthalmologist’s Power List.

About Dr Xiao Liu: Xiao is a Senior Clinician Scientist in AI and Digital Health Technologies and an Ophthalmologist at University of Birmingham and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. Xiao co-leads with Professor Alastair Denniston the AI & Digital Health Group, a research and policy group focused on responsible innovation of AI health technologies.

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