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The GE Brief – January 10, 2019

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January 10, 2019


When former U.S. President Jimmy Carter learned in 2015 that cancer on his skin had spread to his liver and brain, the nonagenarian thought he had a few weeks left to live. He’s still with us — and cancer-free — due in no small part to immunotherapy, a treatment of blazing promise that harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Now, a new partnership between GE Healthcare and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. aims to make success stories like Carter’s common by bringing immunotherapy into the mainstream.

Cell help: While a cancer cure is the ultimate goal, says Vanderbilt’s Jeff Balser, “a more realistic vision for our work over the next decade is that cancer ceases to be a life-ending tragedy for so many people.” He hopes instead that it’ll become “a condition that is effectively managed without limiting a person’s vitality or life span.” The new collaboration will work toward that end by leveraging the power of AI and machine learning apps, which can analyze mountains of patient data and help physicians determine the most effective treatments for individual patients. They also will seek to engineer special dyes that typically latch on cancer and can reveal its progression or response to treatment. These so-called positron-emission tomography (PET) imaging tracers, combined with the apps’ insights, will help doctors predict how individual patients will respond to treatment before it begins, and help pharmaceutical companies develop new drugs faster and cheaper.

Learn more about the marriage of cutting-edge medicine and computer capabilities here.


Everybody knows you should make hay while the sun shines — but leave it to Helsinki entrepreneurs to figure out how to make hay in the dead of the Finnish winter, when days are short and temperatures frigid. In 2011, a group of engineering students created Slush, an annual entrepreneurial confab that’s grown into Europe’s largest startup gathering. Attracting some 20,000 people a year, including the likes of former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and British royal Prince William, the conference has proved such a success that GE Healthcare decided to take things a step further at its Helsinki HQ. In 2014, it created the Health Innovation Village, a startup incubator that keeps the ideas flowing through all four seasons.

Northern lights: Today the Health Innovation Village holds — in addition to a basketball court and an artisan coffee shop — about 40 businesses, including several that work with GE. One is Top Data Science, started in 2016 by Timo Heikkinen and several co-founders. The company seeks to take the oodles of data generated by hospitals and feed it into machine learning algorithms designed to make hospital care more efficient. One currently under testing, for instance, helps radiologists sift through CT and MRI images of the prostate and identify spots that could be cancer. Last year a Japanese image-processing and AI company acquired a majority stake in Top Data Science for $5 million. “This has been a great journey,” Heikkinen said. “When you are part of the village, you get visibility in the industry even though no one knows who you are. GE helps you make new connections.”

From start to Finnish, learn more about the Helsinki innovation incubator here.


Despite dire predictions, robots haven’t managed yet to take all of our jobs, or even make much of a dent in the global labor market, according to a new World Bank report on the interplay between technology and employment. “This fear that robots have eliminated jobs — this fear is not supported by the evidence so far,” World Bank chief economist Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Not the droids you’re looking for: “While technological advances in automation are starting to handle thousands of routine tasks and will eliminate many low-skill jobs in advanced economies and developing countries,” Bloomberg’s Natalia Drozdiak writes, “it’s also creating opportunities for different, more productive and more creative jobs.” Look for many economic forces, and not just robots, to shape how work will look in the future. The rise of the gig economy, for instance, has the World Bank predicting that workers will hold many jobs over the courses of their careers, instead of staying for a long time with the same employer. The institution recommends that governments start preparing for this change now by instituting basic social protections — like insurance that doesn’t depend on one’s employer.

What else will the brave new world of work hold? Read more here.


A Brief History of Trade Wars

The United States is currently entangled in a trade conflict that affects U.S. businesses and consumers. This isn’t the first in history, and it likely won’t be the last. Take a look back to see the history of U.S. trade disputes and how that has led to where the country is today.

Posted by GE on Thursday, December 13, 2018


“We believe diagnostic tools to help physicians better match the right patient to the right immunotherapy can help to reduce expensive trial failures and speed up immunotherapy approvals.”

—  Kieran Murphy, president and CEO of GE Healthcare

Quote: GE Reports. Image: GE Healthcare Life Sciences.

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