The Medical Intelligence and Innovation Institute (MI3) Summer Internship Program at CHOC Children’s gives students the unique opportunity to balance scientific research and clinical rotation.
Students are immersed in seven emerging areas relevant to the future practice of pediatric medicine, including nanomedicine, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI).
Adam Kalawi completed the program in 2015, at a time when Dr Anthony Chang had just launched the summer internship.
He is now in a Child Neurology Residency Program at University of California San Diego/Rady Children’s Hospital.
We caught up with him to reflect on how the MI3 summer internship prepared him for the future of Medicine.
AIMed: Using the insight you gained from the summer internship, could you predict where the AI in Medicine space is heading?
Adam Kalawi: Currently the space is moving towards medical imaging, and pathology images as well – the lowest hanging fruits in terms of AI, with the potential to identify findings human interpreters might miss by examining pixels as data patterns rather than gestalt images.
In many areas of Medicine, we have emerging big data problems, and there are whole realms in which AI is not being tapped to its full potential.
AIM: Among other diversity concerns, not enough young clinicians are working in AI. Is that an issue?
AK: There are several factors impacting this complex issue. Young clinicians have an intuitive sense of how modern technologies work having grown up as “millennials”. This is a strong advantage, but it is very hard to devote mental space to mastering clinical medicine and tackling complex AI and data science simultaneously. More senior colleagues have the advantage of experience and having their clinical practice as second nature.
As our generation becomes more senior and rises to the executive level in healthcare, we will hopefully have both the clinical insight and technical prowess to take AI in medicine to new levels of application.
AIM: What was the best thing about the summer internship?
AK: Among many great aspects, a highlight was the field trips we took. One of the more memorable ones was to a lab at UCLA where they specialize in nanotechnology.
Often when we’re talking about ideas like AI or nanotechnology they seem like vague and abstract constructs. Visiting a lab where these technologies are actually being implemented is not only inspiring, but it also makes the ideas and applications come to life.
It also changed my thinking about the challenges our healthcare system faces and allowed me to think about existing problems, reconstruct them in light of emerging technologies and extrapolate new solutions from current trends.
The simple ability to look ahead and see where the field is going, and especially where those points intersect, thinking and learning ahead of the curve, is extremely valuable.
AIM: What are your colleagues from the program doing now?
AK: Many take the approach I have: keep your finger on the pulse of this whole community while studying to become practicing clinicians.
But several people, who planned to go to medical school, decided to do data science degrees and get involved with hospital systems. Their natural interest remained in the medical field, but they wanted to approach it from the technology and mathematics side.
I have done some coding myself and I think it’s good for clinicians to have that experience in this day and age. Real progress will come when there is a merger of the two worlds.
AIM: What would you say to others considering the summer internship?
AK: When I started the program I was nothing exceptional, I was finishing my junior year as a Biochemistry major, good student but I had no background in AI. Over the summer I received so much teaching and new information, it was an important boost to my career. I wholeheartedly encourage any young person to apply.