Frontiers in AI – Regina Barzilay



Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence is a series of public lectures at Microsoft Research Cambridge featuring leading researchers in the field, focusing on the cutting edge topics at the intersection of machine learning, statistics, and artificial intelligence. Students, scientists, and engineers in academia and industry are all welcome to join us for these exciting talks and the opportunity to socialize with the Cambridge AI/ML community.

How Can NLP Help Cure Cancer?

Professor Regina Barzilay, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab

Majority of cancer research today takes place in biology and medicine. Computer science plays a minor supporting role in this process if at all. In this talk, I hope to convince you that NLP as a field has a chance to play a significant role in this battle. Indeed, free-form text remains the primary means by which physicians record their observations and clinical findings. Unfortunately, this rich source of textual information is severely underutilized by predictive models in oncology. Current models rely primarily only on structured data.
In the first part of my talk, I will describe a number of tasks where NLP-based models can make a difference in clinical practice. For example, these include improving models of disease progression, preventing over-treatment, and narrowing down to the cure. This part of the talk draws on active collaborations with oncologists from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).
In the second part of the talk, I will push beyond standard tools, introducing new functionalities and avoiding annotation-hungry training paradigms ill-suited for clinical practice. In particular, I will focus on interpretable neural models that provide rationales underlying their predictions, and semi-supervised methods for information extraction.


Past Speakers