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Pensacola’s IRIS selected for Microsoft’s new AI for Health grant program

A Pensacola-based health technology company was selected by Microsoft to participate in a new grant program to help expand the company's work using retina imaging to detect disease.

Pensacola-based Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS), the industry leader in telemedicine solutions for diabetic retinal evaluation, was announced as a grantee for the Microsoft AI for Health Initiative. AI for Health, Microsoft's newest initiative under their AI for Good program, will encompass a $40 million, 5-year program that will leverage AI to empower organizations like IRIS, and other companies in the realm of improving health.

"It has always troubled me when patients would come into my practice with severe late-stage eye damage and I couldn't do anything to save their eyesight," said Dr. Sunil Gupta, Retinal Surgeon and Founder at IRIS. "The opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the world at Microsoft means that together we will generate new ideas and insights that will ultimately improve access to care, improve our ability to find and treat retinal disease earlier, all the while allowing us to more successfully save eyesight." CEO of IRIS, Steve Martin added, "We are honored to have been chosen to partner with Microsoft through this great initiative. The exciting part about this opportunity is working with Microsoft to explore new technologies that will accelerate the development of AI solutions at IRIS to save people's vision."

Diabetic retinopathy is a leading cause of blindness across the world and 463 million people are currently at risk. Early detection and effective treatment can reduce the risk of blindness up to 95%. Microsoft's collaboration with research and the development of an AI solution will empower IRIS to bring retinal evaluations to underserved populations across the globe in an effort to end preventable blindness. Through the AI for Health initiative, efforts will center on three key areas: Quest for Discovery, Global Health Insights, and Health Equity.

IRIS is one of six initial grantees for the AI for Health initiative and is honored to be recognized with organizations like BRAC, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Novartis Foundation, PATH, and Seattle Children's Research Institute. Each organization will work with Microsoft to use AI to decipher tough issues like discovering the cause of SIDS, eliminating leprosy, and building an ecosystem that allows safe and secure sharing of biomedical data.

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