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  • Raghav Agarwal

A Silent Induction: Koita Foundation and Ashoka University’s Collaborative Venture

On 10th August 2023, the Koita Foundation and Ashoka University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish the Koita Centre for Digital Health - Ashoka University (KCDH-A). Under the leadership of Dr Anurag Agrawal (Dean of Biosciences & Health Research, Trivedi School of Biosciences, Ashoka University) and Dr Alok Bhattacharya (Head of Department, Biology, Ashoka University), the KCDH-A aims to address the growing need for cutting-edge research and skilled professionals, a crucial enabler for making healthcare affordable, accessible, and of higher quality in India.

Through its courses on informatics and digital health, the KCDH-A offers a multi-disciplinary approach to academic studies in health. KCDH-A plans to utilise artificial intelligence and medical history records to craft a unique curriculum. The center also plans to launch an undergraduate programme in 2024 which shall include courses in human physiology and advanced courses on data science in healthcare. The Ph.D. courses are also on track to be launched in 2024 with KCDH-A enrolling candidates from varied backgrounds across engineering, computer science, biology, and medicine. The partnership opens doors for corporate involvement, fostering internships, student placements, executive programs, and corporate social responsibility funding. 

The focus of the Koita Foundation remains in the two key areas - NGO transformation and Digital Health. Inaugurated in June 2021 by founders Rizwan and Rekha Koita, in collaboration with their alma mater IIT Bombay, the Koita Centre for Digital Health (KCDH) marked the establishment of the first-of-its-kind center dedicated to digital health technologies at IIT Bombay. Rizwan Koita is also the co-founder of CitiusTech, a healthcare company which was termed “Pioneers Of Health care Analytics” by Forbes India.

Digital health involves the use of digital technologies such as computers, mobile devices, software, and the Internet to improve and enhance people’s health and healthcare services. In India, the launch of the National Digital Health Mission (NDHM) in August 2020 and the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission (ABDM) in September 2021 have taken up the task of scaling digital health ventures nationally. 

The Koita Foundation has secured collaborative ventures with leading academic institutions, hospitals, healthcare technology companies, and NGOs such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) and the Tata Memorial Centre (TMC), to name a few.

Beyond academia, joint efforts are underway with hospitals and government organizations for joint research and data sharing. Some examples of ongoing relationships are partnerships with Max Healthcare and MyHealthcare to develop personalised cardiometabolic risk assessment tools and their optimal management. Through cross-border collaborations with renowned institutions, the initiatives explore cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), health recommendations, and wearable technology, fostering innovation and advancing digital health solutions.

Embracing this collaboration, Ashoka University joins the cause of the rapid development of healthcare, with a promise for growth in digital health. There are promises for Ashokan students to gain access to new learning experiences, research opportunities, and exposure aligned with the dynamic emerging digital health sector. This partnership therefore promises great strides in Ashoka University’s academic, social, and research landscape.

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