Dr Mackenzie Graham.
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Meet the team: Dr Mackenzie Graham, NCIMI’s Senior Research Fellow: Imaging & Data Ethics

June 15, 2021

Mackenzie is a Senior Researcher with the Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities, and the Junior Research Fellow in the Humanities at St. Catherine’s College, Oxford. holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada. 

What is your job and what does it involve?

I am a Senior Researcher in Data and Imaging Ethics. In essence, my job is to help make sure that NCIMI is ‘doing what’s right’ in its sharing of medical imaging data. One aspect of this is making sure that NCIMI’s data-sharing practices take account of what ethics requires. Another is helping those involved with NCIMI to address the broader ethical issues raised by their work. This includes questions like “what makes an organization a trustworthy user of data,” “what does a fair data deal look like,” or “how do we balance the interests of individuals, the public, and commercial companies when sharing data”?

What do you enjoy most about working with NCIMI?

Before I started with NCIMI, I didn’t know very much about artificial intelligence or ‘big data. I’ve really enjoyed learning about these areas and exploring the ethical issues they present. It’s also been great working with other experts in the healthcare space that really care about ethics and how these issues impact what they do.

What are the greatest challenges within your role?

I think the biggest challenge in my role comes from the fact that ‘data ethics’ is a relatively new field. There is tremendous excitement about the possibilities that might emerge from ‘big data’ and AI in healthcare, and we’re starting to see some of the benefits in a clinical setting. But many of the possible applications of health data are still speculative, and this makes it challenging to ensure that whatever these future uses of data are, they will be ethical.

What are the key issues for healthcare and AI right now, and in the future?

I think that a key issue now is making sure that people feel confident in sharing their data, including with commercial companies. If people aren’t willing to share their data, the promise of AI in healthcare will struggle to be delivered. Of course, it’s up to those using patient data to show that they are worthy of confidence. In the future, I think a key issue will be helping to assure patients and clinicians that AI tools are worthy of confidence. This requires helping people to understand what AI is, and what it isn’t.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

My dog is very good about making sure that most of my free time is spent with her. I also like to play field hockey (I’m from Canada, where ‘hockey’ is ice hockey), and play the guitar. I have an embarrassingly large collection of Lego for someone my age.

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