The GE Healthymagination Initiative Against Cancer

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In September, GE and leading healthcare and financial partners launched a new healthymagination initiative focused on accelerating cancer innovation and improving care for 10 million cancer patients around the world by 2020 [1]. The plan was announced in New York by GE’s CEO and Chairman Jeff Immelt to an audience of prominent cancer scientists and researchers, doctors, financial partners and employees of GE Healthcare. The company’s comprehensive initiative combines the strength of GE’s portfolio of integrated cancer technologies with collaboration between GE and new partners and data sources to help clinicians provide better, more personalized care.

GE accelerates cancer fight

Breast cancer accounts for nearly 1 in 3 cancers diagnosed in U.S. women [2]. In October 2010, the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) called for a vaccine for breast cancer with a deadline of 2020. Almost a year later, GE’s healthymagination initiative has also focused on breast cancer with a target of 2020.

Modeled after GE’s ecomagination challenge, which resulted in over 5,000 submitted ideas and $134 million in investments and partnerships by GE, the new healthymagination challenge focuses on improving early detection of breast cancer at the molecular level. GE’s first healthymagination Challenge is an open call to action for oncology researchers, businesses, students, and healthcare innovators. Through the Challenge, GE and its venture capital partners will award up to $100 million to fund the best ideas to improve breast cancer diagnostics. The are several goals to the Challenge:

  1. Improve early breast cancer detection and allow for more accurate diagnosis
  2. Better understand tumors associated with triple negative breast cancer, which is less responsive to standard treatments and is typically more aggressive
  3. Better understand the molecular similarities between breast cancer and other solid tumors

Jeff Immelt, CEO and Chairman, GE, said [3]:

We envision a day when cancer is no longer a deadly disease. When you add our cutting edge cancer detection technologies to the innovative ideas of our new partners, it’s a powerful formula for tackling cancer and helping doctors and researchers improve care.

In partnership with O’Reilly Media, the effort will also feature a special focus on data (CEO and founder, Tim O‚ÄôReilly, is an advocate for using data science to spur innovation). A series of code-a-thons or “data challenges” will be held to engage the data science community in finding new applications for breast cancer data.

To enable analysis and further accelerate innovation, GE is also investing in the development of a first-in-kind “super database” that will consolidate clinical, pathology, therapy and outcomes data. The database will be available in collaboration with leading cancer research organizations, as well as NGO and government groups, starting with relevant cancer data from GE’s Medical Quality Improvement Consortium (MQIC); Clarient, a cancer diagnostics and GE Healthcare Company; The Premier healthcare alliance; and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

In addition, Immelt also said that GE will invest $1 billion over the next five years on research and development programs to expand its suite of advanced technologies and solutions for cancer detection and treatment. At the September event, GE presented several new technologies:

  1. GE SenoCase, a new concept in mobile mammography that will deliver breast cancer screening capabilities to millions of women around the world who lack access to existing screening options
  2. GE PET Tracer, a new Positron Emission Tomography (PET) tracer technology in development that will inform doctors if cancer treatments are working, very early in the course of treatment, by measuring new blood vessel formation in tumors
  3. GE SenoBright Contrast Enhanced Spectral Mammography (CESM), a technique that helps radiologists localize a known or suspected breast cancer lesion

Lastly, GE announced a three-year partnership with Susan. G Komen for the Cure to forge first-in-kind programs that bring the latest breast cancer technologies to more women in the United States and around the world. Initially, these programs will run in Wyoming (one of the most rural states in the U.S.), Saudi Arabia and China.

GE will publicly track progress against this cancer initiative at


  1. GE Launches New Commitment to Accelerate Cancer Fight: Integrated Tech Portfolio and Collaboration with Doctors and Researchers to Deliver Better Care to 10M Patients by 2020. GE reports. 2011 Sep 15.
  2. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2012. American Cancer Society. Accessed 2011 Nov 17.
  3. GE and Partners Aim to Speed Fight Against Cancer, Starting with Breast Cancer. Healthymagniation press release. 2011 Sep 15.
About the Author

Walter Jessen, Ph.D. is a Data Scientist, Digital Biologist, and Knowledge Engineer. His primary focus is to build and support expert systems, including AI (artificial intelligence) and user-generated platforms, and to identify and develop methods to capture, organize, integrate, and make accessible company knowledge. His research interests include disease biology modeling and biomarker identification. He is also a Principal at Highlight Health Media, which publishes Highlight HEALTH, and lead writer at Highlight HEALTH.