Fighting a Global Health Crisis through AI

Prof Dean Ho is optimistic about the role of technology in combatting infectious diseases.


Prof Dean Ho is optimistic about the role of technology in combatting infectious diseases.

Unfamiliarity, coupled with a lack of information, has made it challenging to devise a treatment for COVID-19. That can all change with IDentif.AI, a platform that accelerates combination therapy for infectious diseases using Artificial Intelligence (AI).

AI has beaten the world’s best Go player, powered autonomous vehicles and initiated robot surgeons. Now, a team of NUS scientists is utilising AI in the fight against the world’s deadliest pandemic in recent times — COVID-19.

Meet IDentif.AI, created by researchers from the N.1 Institute for Health (N.1) at NUS. The AI-driven platform is able to determine the best combinations of drugs and dosages to rapidly and effectively treat COVID-19. As part of a commitment to supporting the fight against COVID-19, public-spirited firms Micron and Sun Life Singapore have pledged funds to support IDentif.AI’s mission.


What is IDentif.AI?

Pronounced “identify”, IDentif.AI stands for Identifying Infectious Disease Combination Therapy with Artificial Intelligence. The groundbreaking study grew out of the laboratories of N.1.

Professor Dean Ho, who is the director of both N.1 and the Institute for Digital Medicine, said, “Identifying a drug that can be used to treat COVID-19 is a gruelling task. It requires both time and precision given the number of possible drug combinations.”

Indeed, the deluge of possible drug combinations that can effectively treat COVID-19 is mind-boggling — more than 530,000. This number is already narrowed down based on a pool of 12 carefully curated drugs. Enter AI, which is able to help accelerate the identification of an optimal interim treatment for COVID-19 patients, yielding answers within two weeks.

Battling COVID-19 Is Only the Beginning

IDentif.AI’s capabilities extend beyond the coronavirus. It can investigate other infectious diseases such as dengue fever, another recent cause of alarm in Singapore.

As large-scale global epidemics are expected to become more common, IDentif.AI could possibly be a panacea the world needs.

Prof Ho shared, “When we are confronted with emerging pathogens in the future, we will be able to immediately activate IDentif.AI for use.”

“IDentif.AI will provide our patients, healthcare workers and community with an early line of defence and quickly point us towards an effective intervention,” he elaborated.

Mr Chen Kok Sing from Micron Technology, Inc believes in using data to enrich lives


Mr Chen Kok Sing from Micron Technology, Inc believes in using data to enrich lives.

Micron — Partnering with IDentif.AI to Make the World a Better Place

With its position as the world’s leading storage and chip maker, one can say that being a changemaker is hardwired into Micron. Evidently, this is true beyond its commercial pursuits.

In a time of need, IDentif.AI stood out to Micron like a kindred spirit, the two bonded together by a shared vision of deploying technology to make the world a better place.

Support from the Micron Foundation will ensure IDentif.AI stays up-to-date — be it tapping on state-of-the-art equipment, or testing with the latest isolated virus strains.

“The project aligns with our vision — using data to transform how the world uses information to enrich life for all. As IDentif.AI will be accessible worldwide, it could have a huge impact in the global fight against the virus,” said Mr Chen Kok Sing, Corporate Vice President and Singapore Country Manager of Micron Technology, Inc.

IDentif.AI is already building momentum to make this impact. The NUS scientists will soon be launching a public resource, IDentif.AI Online. The online portal will be available to researchers around the world and offers insights into IDentif.AI’s latest developments and test results.

Grateful for Micron’s support, this is the IDentif.AI team’s way of paying it forward.

Sun Life Singapore — Supercharging IDentif.AI

Corporate donors like Sun Life Singapore enable Singapore’s research sector.


Corporate donors like Sun Life Singapore enable Singapore’s research sector.

IDentif.AI has successfully addressed over 40 diseases, leading to multiple human clinical trials with life-saving outcomes. As an insurer, Sun Life Singapore is all about protecting people and preparing for the unpredictable. In line with this belief, Sun Life Singapore is also contributing to IDentif.AI.

“At present, Sun Life helps millions around the world achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. We are committed to playing our part in the fight against COVID-19,” shared Ms Belinda Au, Chief Executive Officer of Sun Life Singapore.

“N.1 has been at the forefront of health innovation. We hope our gift can help supercharge IDentif.AI, the COVID-19 study initiated by N.1,” she added.

As COVID-19 ravages the world, corporate philanthropy continues to be an anchor of support in Singapore’s research sector.

“In times of such uncertainty, it has become more important than ever for the broader community to work with researchers to find solutions. I’m deeply grateful to our supporters,” conveyed Prof Ho.