Support for data-based heart research to continue

13 March 2023

EKG machine at a hospital

Researchers at the Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research have succeeded in developing AI methods for ECG interpretation and for finding myocardial infarctions.

Businessman Anders Wiklöf from the Åland Islands has made a further generous donation to cardiovascular disease research at Uppsala University. The contribution is for continued targeted support for heart research at the University, based on data from large-scale health data sources and artificial intelligence.

Sweden is a country with quite unique conditions for medical ‘big data’ research. This is thanks to the information collected in our world-leading medical registers, which cover the entire population, digitised healthcare data systems, and a long tradition of large population studies following voluntary participants over a period of decades.

Johan Sundström, cardiologist and professor of
epidemiology. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

The research at the Anders Wiklöf Institute for Heart Research is led by Johan Sundström, cardiologist and professor of epidemiology. Over the past decade he has led a national initiative to coordinate all of Sweden’s population studies, with the goal of enabling world-leading cardiovascular research. To be usable, the enormous quantities of data to which the researchers have access require extensive processing by experts in various disciplines. New analytical methods are also required, including artificial intelligence (AI).

“Sweden’s solidarity-based model of healthcare and national health registers offer unique opportunities, and to make the most of these opportunities, new methods are needed along with the abundant but unstructured patient record data,” Sundström says. “We see potential above all in artificial intelligence and machine learning, a technology in which computers learn to solve tasks without being explicitly programmed for it. With the right approach, we can move the front line of our entire field forward.”

AI methods for ECG interpretation

The support from Anders Wiklöf has enabled the institute to recruit two data scientists to continue the development of AI. Researchers at the institute have also succeeded in developing AI methods for ECG interpretation and for finding myocardial infarctions.

“With health and medical care under severe pressure, new methods are needed to make correct diagnoses in time and to choose the best treatment. Thanks to the generous and long-term support from Anders Wiklöf, heart researchers and mathematicians can join up to usher the future in at our Swedish hospitals through artificial intelligence and register-based studies. The donation is therefore strategically important to accelerate our research for the good of human health, both here in Scandinavia and globally,” comments Anders Hagfeldt, Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University.

About the donor

  • Councillor of Commerce and Honorary Doctor of Economics Anders Wiklöf is a businessman from Åland and 100 per cent owner of Wiklöf Holding, currently the largest individually owned group in the Nordic region. The group consists of more than twenty companies in retail and wholesale trade in the Baltic region, hotels and construction, and Skärgårdshavets Helikoptertjänst. Anders Wiklöf is also the largest shareholder in Ålandsbanken.
  • In 1989 Anders Wiklöf established the Ålandsfonden Foundation for the Future of the Baltic Sea (the Baltic Sea Fund).