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Artificial intelligence for mapping evidence to target unmet needs of people with vision impairment in low- and middle-income countries A key step for planning health interventions for unmet needs in LMICs is mapping the evidence on the impact of these unmet needs. Systematic reviews (SRs) are commonly used for this purpose. Systematic reviews are resource-intensive, and the search for evidence is time-consuming. An increasing amount of research has shown that some steps of SRs can be automated with Artificial Intelligence (AI). Training AI can be achieved using existing reviews that have already carried out study search and selection rigorously. We aim to investigate the use of self-supervised artificial intelligence to search for evidence on unmet needs and targets for potential new interventions to improve the quality of life of people with vision impairment as a preliminary or adjunctive step to evidence synthesis programmes in this field. The proposed framework is built using self-supervised learning models with the ability to learn from semantic representations of data, allowing an integrated knowledge representation of different data types while evolving its structure to different data sources. The training dataset will include existing eye Global Health reviews, including studies selected by human experts. Self-supervised knowledge prototyping using complex networks meta-modelling will be adopted. Computational network analysis of the titles and abstracts of studies included in the systematic review will be performed. Finally, results from the AI-led and the human-led processes of extracting data will be compared.


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Personal profile


Gianni Virgili has been associate professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Florence since 2005, Director of the Ophthalmology Residency Programme, director of the  clinical unit SOD Ottica Fisiopatologica and Coordinator of the regional Center for Vision Education and Rehabilitation at the Careggi Hospital in Florence, Italy. He has worked as medical retina specialist since 1992.

He achieved a Master’s degree in Epidemiology at the University of Turin, Italy, in 2005 and has received extensive training in biostatistics and research methods, particularly in systematic reviews and meta-analyses. In support of the Hospital Medical Management he could also develop health management skills and knowledge of performance indicators and administrative hospital data across all medical specialties. He is collaborating with the Regional Health Agency in pharmacoepidemiology studies in Tuscany.

He has collaborated particularly with Cochrane, in which he has the following editorial roles: Editor of the Cochrane Eyes and Vision (2006); Co-coordinating Editor of the  Diagnostic Test Accuracy Satellite Cochrane Eyes and Vision (2011); Editor of the Cochrane Diagnostic Test Accuracy Working Group (2011).

He is an Editorial Board member of the journal Internal and Emergency Medicine (HTA and Clinical Evidence section, 2010), an Academic Editor of the journal PLOS ONE (2015) and an Executive Editor of the American Journal of Ophthalmology (2016).

He is involved in an international collaborative project with the US Satellite of Cochrane Eyes and Vision (Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), with the aim of  supporting Associate Editors in ophthalmology and optometry journals that are dedicated to improving the quality of published evidence synthesis  (grant from the National Eye Institute, National Institutes of Health).

He is a member of the Technical Working Group for the WHO Package of Refractive Error Interventions and the WHO Package of Rehabilitation Interventions for Vision rehabilitation. In this project, as a senior member of Cochrane Eyes and Vision, Gianni Virgili will provide technical support to the project regarding retrieving, using or preparing systematic reviews and clinical guidelines.

Research Focus

His main areas of interest include primary research on the diagnosis and treatment of medical retina disorders, visual function and low vision rehabilitation.  Gianni is an expert in conducting systematic reviews of interventions and diagnostic test accuracy studies in eyes and vision as well as in other medical specialties. This methodological skill has enable him to provide editorial, methodological, and statistical support in other research fields, including neurology, immunology, allergology, radiology, laboratory medicine, anesthesiology and orthopedics. He has also published reports and studies using registry-based and administrative electronic data, particularly working with EUROCARE and RARECARE cancer registries network and the Regional Health Agency in Tuscany.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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