New AI Consortium Focuses on Fighting COVID-19

A new artificial intelligence consortium at the University of Illinois has made fighting the COVID-19 pandemic its number one priority. The Digital Transformation Institute ( DTI) was recently launched by a collaboration that includes Microsoft Corporation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), University of California Berkeley, Princeton University, University of Chicago, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, and National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC. DTI has pledged funding for research proposals related to COVID-19, including applying machine learning and other artificial intelligence methods to mitigate the spread of the pandemic; genome-specific COVID-19 medical protocols, biomedical informatics methods for drug design and re-purposing; design and sharing of clinical trials; improving societal resilience in response to the pandemic; data analytics for COVID-19 research harnessing private and sensitive data; and other topics.

“The Digital Transformation Institute is a consortium of leading scientists, researchers, innovators, and executives from academia and industry, joining forces to accelerate the social and economic benefits of digital transformation,” said Siebel, chairman and CEO of, in a press release. “We have the opportunity through public-private partnership to change the course of a global pandemic. I cannot imagine a more important use of AI.”

Researchers have until May 1 to apply for the funding and can learn more at

“The Digital Transformation Institute, with its vision of cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaboration, represents an exciting model to help accelerate innovation in this important new field of study,” said Robert J. Jones, chancellor of the University of Illinois. “At this time of a global health crisis, the Institute’s initial research focus will be on applying AI to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and to learn from it how to protect the world from future pandemics. DTI is an important addition to the world’s fight against this disease and a powerful new resource in developing solutions to all societal challenges.”