Medicine is inherently multimodal, with rich data modalities spanning text, imaging, genomics, and more. Generalist biomedical artificial intelligence (AI) systems that flexibly encode, integrate, and interpret this data at scale can potentially enable impactful applications ranging from scientific discovery to care delivery. To enable the development of these models, we first curate MultiMedBench, a new multimodal biomedical benchmark. MultiMedBench encompasses 14 diverse tasks such as medical question answering, mammography and dermatology image interpretation, radiology report generation and summarization, and genomic variant calling. We then introduce Med-PaLM Multimodal (Med-PaLM M), our proof of concept for a generalist biomedical AI system. Med-PaLM M is a large multimodal generative model that flexibly encodes and interprets biomedical data including clinical language, imaging, and genomics with the same set of model weights. Med-PaLM M reaches performance competitive with or exceeding the state of the art on all MultiMedBench tasks, often surpassing specialist models by a wide margin. We also report examples of zero-shot generalization to novel medical concepts and tasks, positive transfer learning across tasks, and emergent zero-shot medical reasoning. To further probe the capabilities and limitations of Med-PaLM M, we conduct a radiologist evaluation of model-generated (and human) chest X-ray reports and observe encouraging performance across model scales. In a side-by-side ranking on 246 retrospective chest X-rays, clinicians express a pairwise preference for Med-PaLM M reports over those produced by radiologists in up to 40.50% of cases, suggesting potential clinical utility. While considerable work is needed to validate these models in real-world use cases, our results represent a milestone towards the development of generalist biomedical AI systems.
Diabetic retinopathy (DR) screening is instrumental in preventing blindness, but faces a scaling challenge as the number of diabetic patients rises. Risk stratification for the development of DR may help optimize screening intervals to reduce costs while improving vision-related outcomes. We created and validated two versions of a deep learning system (DLS) to predict the development of mild-or-worse ("Mild+") DR in diabetic patients undergoing DR screening. The two versions used either three-fields or a single field of color fundus photographs (CFPs) as input. The training set was derived from 575,431 eyes, of which 28,899 had known 2-year outcome, and the remaining were used to augment the training process via multi-task learning. Validation was performed on both an internal validation set (set A; 7,976 eyes; 3,678 with known outcome) and an external validation set (set B; 4,762 eyes; 2,345 with known outcome). For predicting 2-year development of DR, the 3-field DLS had an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 0.79 (95%CI, 0.78-0.81) on validation set A. On validation set B (which contained only a single field), the 1-field DLS's AUC was 0.70 (95%CI, 0.67-0.74). The DLS was prognostic even after adjusting for available risk factors (p<0.001). When added to the risk factors, the 3-field DLS improved the AUC from 0.72 (95%CI, 0.68-0.76) to 0.81 (95%CI, 0.77-0.84) in validation set A, and the 1-field DLS improved the AUC from 0.62 (95%CI, 0.58-0.66) to 0.71 (95%CI, 0.68-0.75) in validation set B. The DLSs in this study identified prognostic information for DR development from CFPs. This information is independent of and more informative than the available risk factors.