Presenting the Global Top 100 outstanding projects: Artificial Intelligence-Based Referral System for Patients With Diabetic Retinopathy in Jalisco

Published on May 22, 2023

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After a thorough scientific, ethical, and entrepreneurial review of all projects submitted to the 2022 IRCAI Global Top 100 call, IRCAI has deemed ten submissions as “outstanding” based on their AI integrity, potential impact on the SDGs, business sustainability, and ethical design. The project highlighted here below featured among these ten submissions, showcasing a great example of how AI can be used to promote healthy lives and well-being for all at all ages (SDG3). Earlier this month, at our STI Forum side event, we had the privilege to hear from Mario Arauz, who is the main coordinator of this project.

Disparities in access to eye care services

Diabetic retinopathy is one of the leading causes of vision loss as it affects the retina, the light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the human eye. The condition arises as a complication of diabetes and is usually caused by long-term high blood sugar levels in blood vessels in the retina, leading to their leakage or abnormal growth. With growing fluid accumulating in the retina, people eventually suffer from visual impairment.

While the maintaining of healthy blood sugar levels can reduce the risk of vision loss, the impact of diabetic retinopathy could also be drastically minimized if people had access to eye illness detection services. In the Mexican context, where the team behind this project deploys their solution, the diabetes rate is around 10.4% according to WHO. Yet, the country counts only 42.5 ophthalmologists per million people, compared to 105.5 in Spain, 103.6 in Argentina or 67.4 in Brazil.

A project with a great impact magnitude

In the effort to enhance early detection of Diabetic Retinopathy (DR), the utilization of AI models, specifically deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs), has emerged as a valuable tool. These AI models have the ability to analyze a considerable amount of Retinal Fundus Images (RFI) in a short period of time, ranging from a couple of months to less than 10 minutes. By aligning with Mexican DR clinical guidelines, a system of CNN models has been developed. These models preprocess the RFI, evaluate their suitability and quality, and classify them with a remarkable specificity and sensitivity of over 90% using local data. To facilitate accessibility, an API has been created to deploy the models in the cloud. Furthermore, work is underway to develop a web application for efficiently collecting and managing the RFI.

For more details on the steps for the clinical integration of the system and conducted tests on the preliminary convolutional neural network models in the Mexican context, check out this article.

More background information can be found in this MDPI publication and this IEEE article.


Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

Georgia DIP and AI Research Project

International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has published the digital innovation profile for Georgia, a document analysing digital innovation ecosystem in Georgia, focusing on the opportunities and challenges in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The document had been prepared with the collaboration of IRCAI experts.

Highlights from the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference

Educators and professionals from across Europe and Asia gathered in the picturesque city of Ljubljana, Slovenia, from November 12-15, 2023, for the 16th ASEF Classroom Network Conference. Hosted by the International Research Centre on AI under the Auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and supported by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, this annual event was a success: it brought teachers together, facilitated the creation of new partnerships, answered some questions about AI in education and uncovered many new and important ones.

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

In Person Meeting of the African Members of the NAIXUS Network of AI Researchers on AI and Development

The NAIXUS project (Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs) convened a significant meeting during the Deep Learning Indaba 2023. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss the progress of the project, share insights, and plan future actions to strengthen the network’s impact on advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through artificial intelligence (AI) research.

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

Workshop at the Deep Learning Indaba 2023: “Building a Global Network of AI Researchers on AI and the United Nations SDGs” 

The International Research Institute on AI under the auspices of UNESCO (IRCAI) and its core members in the Network of Excellence NAIXUS; a multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at bridging the gap between AI and sustainable development hosted a meeting amd a workshop in Accra, Ghana. Both events were held as part of the Deep Learning Indaba 2023 Forum on September 8 and 9 and were co-hosted by the NAIXUS members from Africa.


International Research Centre
on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI)
under the auspices of UNESCO 

Jožef Stefan Institute
Jamova cesta 39
SI-1000 Ljubljana


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