Posted on March 21, 2018

A leading computer scientist recently awarded a MacArthur Fellowship – commonly known as a “genius grant” – for her research is to visit Qatar to speak about using artificial intelligence to cure cancer. Regina Barzilay, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT-CSAIL), is to deliver her lecture on AI for Oncology: Learning to Cure Cancer from Images and Text.

The talk will be held at the Education City Student Center at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, March 27. She will be visiting Qatar to attend an annual research meeting held between CSAIL and Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI). Professor Barzilay will discuss how machine-learning models are already making a difference in oncological clinical practice, including the automatic reading of imaging data, large-scale analytics over patient records, and improved models for measuring disease progression. "I firmly believe that AI can change all the stages of cancer care, starting from early diagnosis to treatment,” she said. “It is exciting to see how these tools are used by physicians and witness their impact in the clinical setting."

Professor Barzilay undertakes research across multiple areas, including applying machine-learning methods to oncology and drug design for the early detection and treatment of cancer. She also undertakes work in natural language processing (NLP) including syntactic parsing and the deciphering of dead languages, to developing new ways to train neural networks to provide rationales for their decisions. In 2017, her work in computational linguistics earned her a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes referred to as a “genius grant” which is awarded to United States citizens or residents “for extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits.”

QCRI Executive Director Ahmed Elmagarmid said Professor Barzilay applied her skills to understanding human languages for years before moving on to apply machine learning and AI to the cure of cancer through image processing. “I am looking forward to an intriguing and thought-provoking talk,” Dr Elmagarmid said.