Rendering of a technician wearing a Microsoft HoloLens visor while looking at a 3-D image of an MRI scan
Image by Dominique Franson and Andrew Dupuis, CWRU

CWRU-Microsoft partnership yields major gains, increased hope for patients

Announced little more than a year ago, Case Western Reserve’s second significant collaboration with Microsoft already is offering meaningful results.

Today, the two organizations announced a breakthrough made possible by pooling their respective strengths: the university’s in medical imaging, and Microsoft’s in quantum computing.

Specifically, they shared how Microsoft researchers’ “quantum inspired” algorithms led to dramatic improvements in the application of CWRU’s pioneering technique, magnetic resonance fingerprinting (MRF). Specifically, the algorithms allowed for scans that are 30 percent more precise in measuring identifiers of disease—and produced as much as three times faster than the leading existing techniques.

Quantum computing holds the promise of processes that are exponentially more powerful—and quick—than in today’s machines. While the realization of such possibilities are still years away, Microsoft researchers found a way to apply some of the principles behind the approach. The resulting algorithm runs on current technology, yet delivers state-of-the-future findings.

As CWRU radiology professor and director of MRI research Mark Griswold explained, “[t]here are unique advantages with the quantum-inspired algorithms that are allowing us to get results that we just haven’t been able to see with anything else.” Such progress means that MRF’s advantages over traditional MRIs—such as earlier detection of disease as well as of signs of whether a prescribed treatment is working—are increasingly closer to becoming a reality for patients.

Krysta Svore, Microsoft’s leader for quantum research at the company’s Redmond headquarters, will share more about the quantum computing and the company’s quantum-inspired algorithms at 4:55 p.m. today in a livestreamed conversation with Fortune editor Robert Hackett and Andrew Fursman, the CEO of 1Qbit, another quantum computing company.