Joao Lima

The Johns Hopkins University and Toshiba Corporation have extended their long-running relationship to a joint research project developing precision cardiovascular medicine.

Toshiba will be supplying data for analysis by Joao Lima, director of cardiovascular imaging at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The goal of the data analysis, according to Lima, is to identify who is most susceptible to cardiovascular problems so preventive measures can be implemented.

Lima’s research focuses on the development and application of imaging and technology to address scientific and clinical problems involving the heart and vascular system. The algorithm developed with Toshiba’s data, then, could potentially be used to identify cardiovascular risk of individuals in other population groups, he says. Lima will be getting additional support from Toshiba Digital Solutions Corporation, a Toshiba subsidiary that works on artificial intelligence projects.

“We are interested in not only the clinical disease but the subclinical disease, the disease that has not yet caused health problems,” says Lima, a professor of radiology and epidemiology. “You want to predict a stroke in the making, a heart attack in the making.”

The project, Lima adds, aligns with into Johns Hopkins’ inHealth initiative, tailoring treatments to individuals based on population-level data analysis. Precision medicine also is a priority at Toshiba, according to Shinichi Baba, group manager for Toshiba’s Global Research and Development Group.

“We see precision medicine as a potential area where we can work together,” says Baba. “We don’t want to just look at this data. We want to eventually deliver this work to the public.”

Lima has been working with Toshiba and subsidiary Toshiba Medical Systems for nearly 20 years, first to develop imaging technology to examine coronary arteries. The Johns Hopkins Hospital has installed many of Toshiba Medical’s newest CT scanners, and the two organizations signed a collaborative research agreement in 2015. The following year, Toshiba Medical was acquired by Canon, and in 2017, the company opened a research and imaging center overseen by Lima in the 1812 Ashland building in East Baltimore, home of Johns Hopkins Technology Ventures.

Even after Toshiba sold its medical equipment subsidiary, Lima remained close to many Toshiba executives, which helped lead to the data project.

“Dr. Lima always enjoys discussions with industry,” says Helen Montag, JHTV’s senior director for corporate partnerships, who worked with Toshiba on the deal. “He is an inventor and he likes to work hand in hand with industry partners.”

More and more companies want to collaborate with Johns Hopkins researchers on data projects, Montag says. The use and disclosure of Johns Hopkins’ patient or health plan member-related data is governed by Johns Hopkins’ Data Trust, which must approve any such collaboration.

“We have to be very thoughtful about research partnerships involving data, especially where our patient data is concerned,” she says.

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