Inaugural lecture: 'En attendant Godot - Making sense of our world: The importance of Data and Diversity'

Leonard Deacon Lecture Theatre, Medical School Building, University of Birmingham
Lectures Talks and Workshops, Medical and Dental Sciences, Research
Wednesday 3rd April 2019 (16:30-17:30)
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Please get in touch with Yvonne Dawson if you have any questions or would like more information.

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Professor Jean Baptiste Cazier

Professor Jean Baptiste CazierProfessor of Bioinformatics, Director of the Centre for Computational Biology, Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences

The promise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is boundless: never before did we have access to so much computing power and information. The excitement is nowhere more acute than in the Life Sciences where the impact of AI on biomedical research should be revolutionary. For decades, the curious world of Bioinformatics has been leading the way for applied Data Science. Yet, we are still far from finding “The Cure to Cancer” or achieving all other much anticipated health benefits. So why are we not making the most of this incredible opportunity? One simple reason might be that if we look closely enough all is not what it seems.

More, bigger data is not necessarily better. The vast majority of Data can be at best uninformative, most likely adding to the ambient noise and potentially hiding the real gems. So, if we really want to make the most of our capabilities we should probably just stop and think. Rather than feeding bigger machines with more data, we might elect to identify what is relevant, and how to compute it. All data is not equal and, depending on the question, some data can be more valuable than other data. Importantly, in order to make better sense of our world we need to explore our diversity, interrogate outliers, identify other dimensions (e.g. ethnicity, environment, culture) or compare different scales (individual, family, nation).

Building on experience accumulated from working in numerous and different scenarios across the world, and mindful of the pitfalls and the hype, I will consider what Bioinformatics can really do for us in the era of Big Data, AI, and Personalised Medicine.

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