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Artificial intelligence has the potential to completely transform the healthcare industry. As noted in a recent Forbes article, “its impact promises to be truly life-changing.” To realize this potential, however, researchers first must tackle a variety of challenges.

To better understand these challenges and how best to address them, UCI’s Institute for Genomics (IGB) and the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Sciences (ICS) are sponsoring the AI & Biomedicine Symposium on May 31, 2019. The all-day event, being held in the Calit2 Auditorium, opens at 10 a.m. with the talk, “Deep Learning in Genomics and Biomedical Image Analysis,” by Computer Science Professor Xiaohui Xie.

“Artificial intelligence is booming,” says Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Pierre Baldi, who is organizing the symposium. “It has many applications, such as self-driving cars, but of course one big area of application is biology and medicine.” Baldi, who earlier this year was named one of the “Top 100 AI Leaders in Drug Discovery and Advanced Healthcare,” explains that the goal of the symposium is to bring together a diverse group of researchers to discuss AI applications in biology and medicine.

Baldi will be talking about AI and natural intelligence in his talk, “From AI to NI and Back.” He will touch on how researchers have applied AI to better understand the brain, but then he will reverse directions. “What can we guess about how the brain works that could help us make better AI in the future?” he asks. “AI can do a lot of incredible things today, but it’s still very far from being capable of doing general intelligent things like a human brain can do,” he says. “What are the ingredients that are missing?”

To help further his own work, he is looking forward to hearing from other top researchers in the field. “We are delighted that Søren Brunak and Atul Butte, two world-renown scientists, will be able to join the event as keynote speakers and provide the audience with a European and U.S. perspective on the role of AI in biomedicine.” Both are working on very large databases of electronic medical records. As the research director of the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (CPR) at the University of Copenhagen, Brunak has access to many millions of records of Danish patients. At the symposium, he will discuss “Disease Trajectories in a Life-Long Perspective.” Butte, who is the Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg Distinguished Professor in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, will give a talk on “Translating a Trillion Points of Data into Therapies, Diagnostics, and New Insights into Disease.”

UCI Chancellor’s Professor of Computer Science and Statistics Padhraic Smyth is excited about the speakers and topics lined up. “We are entering an interesting period of time in terms of the application of AI and machine learning techniques to problems in biomedicine,” he says, noting that while some impressive applications have been developed, particularly for medical image analysis, there are still challenges in other areas, such as personalized risk prediction over time. “It will be interesting to see what the speakers predict in terms of realistic expectations for research and applications over the next several years.”

Smyth will also talk at the event, describing efforts by his research group to automatically annotate and summarize doctor-patient conversations. “With the introduction of electronic health record systems in the U.S. in the past decade, doctors now spend a lot more time typing information into a computer rather than talking to patients,” he explains. “We have been working on natural language processing and ML techniques that have the potential to help alleviate this and automate parts of a doctor’s daily routine. We have made some nice progress, but there is a lot more research to do!”

To learn about this work and many other research projects advancing AI and biomedicine, register for the event today!

Shani Murray