Alberta centre mining data to help in medical decision making

February 21, 2010

EDMONTON, AB, Feb. 21, 2010/ Troy Media/ — With news that its funding has been renewed, the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning is launching into its second phase – commercialization and a major focus on biomedical applications for the maching learning and data mining technology it is developing.

“We have applications related to cancer,” says Dr. Osmar Zian, its scientific director, “which can be detecting cancer by providing decision support for practitioners on the treatment or the dosage given to patients. It can also predict people who are susceptible to  relapse.” But, he adds, “there are other examples where we will also build data warehouses to collect data from different sources to provide decision support systems . . . for decision-makers. There are also techniques that we are working on for visualization of medical images. The list goes on and on. ”

Osmar Zian
Osmar Zian

Turning this research into tools that can help save lives is what the new commercialization component is all about. And the man who is charged with making that a reality is Robert Murakami, the Centre’s new executive director. He’s also the president and CEO of its new commercialization arm, a company called Myriad Machine Learning. It’s his job to bring researchers and investors together to help translate the science into industrial applications.

“Machine learning is really a platform technology,” Murakami explains. “It is the fundamental engine for analyzing and predicting large datasets, much like predicting new investment strategies, or new trading tools for investment management. or predicting patient movement and predictability within a hospital environment. or predicting whether or not the existing oil wells in this province are actually being managed efficiently. And so, because it’s such a platform technology and because we know that information technology is growing at an enormous rate – and we now have a gazillion, gazillion bits of information floating around – how does all that get analyzed and how can we actually utilize it to create something better for people?”

Through Myriad and the Alberta Ingenuity Centre for Machine Learning, Murakami is also setting the stage for the next generation of technology entrepreneurs, including a program that offers business bootcamps to university students.

Cheryl Croucher

Channels: The Calgary Beacon, February 22, 2010

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