UBC CIC Fall 2022 Newsletter

UBC CIC Newsletter
UBC Community Health and Wellbeing CIC

Welcome to the UBC Community Health and Wellbeing Cloud Innovation Centre’s (CIC) newsletter for Fall 2022.

Since our last communication, the UBC CIC has continued to collaborate with community partners on some innovative challenges. Highlighted in the paragraphs below you can read about recent successes.  To view all of our projects, check out the CIC website

Of particular note, two of UBC CIC’s projects resulted in publications for the sponsors and their teams. In both cases, the teams included UBC faculty, post doctoral fellows, residents, current students and/or alumni.

Serratus in Nature

In January 2022, Dr Artem Babaian and the team behind the Serratus Project published their research in Nature. Working with the CIC, the Serratus Project built a ridiculously powerful supercomputer, equivalent to 22,500 simultaneous vCPUs, enabling the team to complete 713 years of analyses in just 7 days. Dr. Babaian and his team found 132,000 RNA viruses (just 15,000 were known previously) and nine new species of coronaviruses.  

A further phase of the project is currently underway, and if successful, promises to revolutionize the way virology research is conducted in the years to come. 

Read more here.

VGH CT Scan Model in Academic Radiology

In March 2022, a study comparing the use of hard labeling techniques with soft labeling methodology for classifying opacity and percent of well aerated lung as input into machine learning models was published in Academic Radiology.  This work was done using CT scans of COVID 19 patients, gathered from many different parts of the world, but is extensible to other clinical contexts.

A further phase of this project, in progress, seeks to improve the clinical relevance of the methodology. 

The CIC has completed a number of data-related challenges, including these:

  • Heart Failure Patient Prognosticator – based on data collected by the relevant quality assurance programs, the UBC CIC worked with Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care to develop machine learning models to predict patient outcomes.  The solution aims to better inform treatment plans and clinical interventions, as well as reduce further hospitalizations and improve patient outcomes.
  • Unlocking Census Data – Collaborating with Imagine Canada, the UBC CIC developed a tool for charities and nonprofits to visualize the Census Canada datasets in a user-friendly way. The solution offers a new way to interact with this data in an understandable way with an interactive map. Charities and nonprofits can now use the interactive map to make more effective decisions by understanding the needs of specific communities. This solution improves allocation of resources and services, and is better at identifying targets for volunteer or fundraising opportunities.
  • The Sea Around Us – The Sea Around Us (SAU) is an international research initiative located at UBC, and has been collecting fisheries related data from every maritime country since 1950.  It acts as a critical resource to assess the impact of fisheries on marine environments, and the data is used by governments, NGOs (including the UN), and marine diversity researchers.  The SAU needed a solution from which end users could conduct complex data analysis and visualizations without loading their web site.

The UBC CIC was fortunate to collaborate with a charity co-founded by an UBC international student graduate, which makes potable water available to villagers in rural Kenya and Ghana. Working with youth charity TakingITGlobal (TIG), we also developed an application which allows youth to track their behaviours against the UN Sustainable Development Goal for Climate Action.  Also with TIG, and Amazon Future Engineer, UBC CIC collaborated on Your Voice is Power, a social justice curriculum aimed at increasing interest in coding among Indigenous youth.

There are too many projects to highlight in a short newsletter, but please do check them out on the CIC website.

We are grateful to the faculty, alumni and community collaborators on the projects we’ve undertaken, and we are consistently amazed by the quality and resourcefulness of the UBC undergraduate and graduate students with whom we’ve worked.  Many of them are from Computer Science, Math, Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering.  One quarter of them are from Arts.

In a January student panel, hosted by Dr. Simon Bates, Vice Provost, and Associate Vice President Teaching and Learning, current and former student employees reflected on their work experiences, the projects with which they had been involved, and the impact of the work on their career goals. They offered this advice to their peers:

“In order to grow, you need to fail. Testing your limits and going out of your comfort zone is what you need to do to improve at anything. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing yourself enough.”

If you are a student that is interested in joining the CIC, check your faculty Co-op office job boards, as postings are added often.

About the CIC

The CIC at the University of British Columbia (UBC) is a public-private collaboration with Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) that identifies challenges that matter to the community and applies novel and emerging technologies to solve these challenges. The UBC CIC includes full-time staff from both AWS and UBC, as well as undergraduate co-op students completing full-time work placements from various areas of study.

To learn more about the CIC, visit our website here.

The UBC Cloud Innovation Centre serves as a hub for public sector community-driven ‘challenges’ that address Community Health and Wellbeing problems and opportunities. Our definition of community is deliberately broad: from the community that lives, works, and learns on UBC’s campuses, to our many community sites and partners, government, not-for-profit organizations and indigenous nations. All our project outcomes are published under an open source license (typically the MIT license), and the ability to publicly publish our outcomes is a requirement to collaborate with us.

To learn more about submitting a challenge for the CIC, visit our website here.