Health, research, discovery and technology have been linked inextricably for centuries. The good news is that many of humanity’s greatest thinkers have dedicated themselves to enhancing and preserving our lives. The challenging reality is that even our most qualified experts can no longer keep pace with the overwhelming volume and complexity of emerging health research.

Disconnects between massive amounts of health-related data and our ability to transform it into actionable information often lead to tragic results for individuals and populations who are unable to benefit even from existing diagnostics and treatments. But by applying augmented intelligence through cognitive systems in service to finding the best treatments at the right time, IBM is helping to reverse the trend of needless suffering and mortality.

IBM is harnessing data and designing analytics systems to enhance the ability of health practitioners and public administrators to identify, engage and assist at-risk populations for diseases and conditions such as cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease and nutrition poverty. With the participation of volunteers around the world, IBM also provides — free of charge — the massive computing power that humanitarian researchers need to find cures for disease and investigate solutions to protect and preserve healthy environments. And finally, IBM is a global leader in developing and providing employee health initiatives.

IBM Health Corps

IBM launched IBM Health Corps at the 2016 World Health Care Congress. This global pro bono incubator partners with health organizations to address some of the most challenging health disparities by exploring big ideas in technology for public and population health. With dedicated teams of experts on the ground for three-week engagements, IBM Health Corps makes use of IBM’s expertise in cognitive, analytics, data science and design to help partner organizations expand health access and services, and improve health systems and outcomes.

In August 2016, the program announced its first five projects. Engagements in 2016 included:

  • IBM Health Corps’ collaboration with the American Cancer Society on ChemoQuant — the world’s first chemotherapy forecasting tool to predict treatment need in low- and middle-income countries. Currently only 10 percent of cancer patients in sub-Saharan Africa can access cancer care and pain relief, according to Quartz Africa. Ethiopia and Uganda will begin using ChemoQuant in 2017 to improve their chemotherapy procurement processes.

For too long, it has been assumed that cancer treatment is too expensive and too complex to be scaled up in lower-income countries. But this simply is not true. In partnership with IBM and other global health leaders, we are going to change the rules of the game globally in oncology.

— American Cancer Society CEO Gary Reedy

  • Working with the Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, IBM Health Corps developed a mathematical model to evaluate the impact of public health interventions to fight dengue fever — a mosquito-borne disease that reached epidemic proportions in Taiwan in 2014-15, and which threatens nearly half of the world’s population, according to the World Health Organization. “We are excited about this collaboration opportunity with IBM Health Corps,” said Jen-Hsiang Chuang, MD, PhD, deputy director general of the Taiwan CDC. “With their expertise in data analytics and population health capabilities, IBM’s support will definitely accelerate our work and potentially help close the gap in global disease detection and in fighting against the threat of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.”

World Community Grid

IBM World Community Grid® enables “citizen scientists” from around the world to contribute their unused computer power in service to humanitarian research. Medical, climate and other researchers use the power of the World Community Grid “virtual supercomputer” to shorten the time-to-results of data-intensive computing projects by weeks, months or even years. Standout projects in 2016 included:

  • The OpenZika project, seeking effective treatments for the Zika virus, for which there currently is no cure.
  • Help Stop TB, a collaboration with the University of Nottingham (U.K.) to unlock the secrets of the bacterium that causes tuberculosis — which remains among the top 10 causes of death worldwide.
  • Computing for Clean Water, which used IBM World Community Grid to simulate water flow through carbon nanotubes to help understand processes that could lead to improved global access to clean water.

World Community Grid provided the equivalent of 167,000 years of computing time in 2016, performing 431 million scientific calculations. Since the program’s inception, more than 728,000 volunteers have contributed unused computing time from 3.3 million devices in service to 28 humanitarian research projects. The program has provided 1.4 million years of computing time, valued at more than $500 million. Research enabled by World Community Grid has provided the basis of more than 50 peer-reviewed scientific articles.

The beauty of it is, you don't have to have any particular skills. You don't have to have any scientific background. You just have to care.

— Hands On Orlando Executive Director Chris Allen

World Community Grid attracted five new corporate partners in 2016, and beat out MTV and Tumblr to win the 2016 People’s Voice Webby Award for Corporate Social Responsibility.


Service organizations, such as settlement houses, that provide vital support for low-income families and individuals often strain to supply the program documentation required to maintain public and private financing. IBM SafetyNet is helping to solve that problem by helping nonprofits automate the collection and management of program data — freeing social services personnel to help their clients more effectively. The data management solution is built on IBM’s Social Enterprise and Smarter Care Curam platform, and designed to help standardize and centralize contract, program, and client data.

Each selected organization receives a grant valued at $300,000 that includes access to the cloud-based IBM SafetyNet application, training, 16 weeks of consulting services to configure the system, and ongoing support. In 2016, IBM SafetyNet:

  • Launched a new website through which prospective grantees can learn about the program and apply for grants.
  • Partnered with nonprofit grant recipients the city of Rochester, New York, and United Way of Rochester to support IBM Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations to help fight poverty by improving the reach of social services.
  • Expanded its partnership with the United Neighborhood Houses to four new nonprofit grant recipient locations in New York City.

Since the program’s inception, 10 grants valued at $3 million have been awarded to help nonprofits better serve 150,000 low-income clients.

Impact Grants

IBM Impact Grants bring the power of IBM capabilities to our communities, to transform organizations and help them tackle society’s toughest challenges. Around the world, Impact Grants deliver strategically designed pro bono consulting and integrated software solutions, with particular emphasis on cloud, mobile, analytics and cognitive. Over the past seven years, 5,000 IBM consultants have delivered 2,200 Impact Grants, worth $65 million, to 1,500 nonprofit organizations in 60 countries. These grants equip organizations — especially those in health, education, disaster, jobs, and youth empowerment — to make profound changes for good. Selected recipients in 2016 included:

  • The Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China, where IBM provided an analytics solution that uses cognitive-based modeling to predict (and therefore prevent) outbreaks of infectious diseases, particularly Dengue Fever.
  • The Maternity Foundation, a Danish NGO that uses IBM-provided SPSS® software licenses as part of a solution that tracks and analyzes data collected through the foundation’s “Safe Delivery” mobile app, which is used by skilled birth attendants in developing countries.
  • Stop The Traffik, a U.K.-based NGO that uses IBM SoftLayer® Cloud and i2 Analyst’s Notebook software licenses to support its mobile STOP App — an anonymous reporting tool for victims and observers of human trafficking activity. These IBM tools have helped Stop The Traffik identify and disrupt key hotspots for human trafficking.
  • The United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation, which partnered with IBM on a first-of-its-kind Social Media Analytics study of the influence of corporate social responsibility (CSR) engagement on a company’s brand. Its results will give corporate decision-makers the hard data they require to initiate or increase their company’s CSR participation and brand reputation.

Download the 2016 report