New Brock Canada Research Chair improves health through technology – The Brock News

When computing meets biology, unknown details about human health are revealed.

Yifeng Li is an expert in bioinformatics, an emerging field of study in which software tools and methods are used to reveal embedded patterns in large and complex biological datasets.

“These models help us uncover the hidden information we need to create solutions that will solve diseases and other challenges in human biology,” says the University’s assistant professor of computer science and biological sciences. Brock.

Li’s research largely focuses on harnessing artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to develop or refine drugs to treat cancer, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, among other conditions. , and reduce the negative side effects of medications.

Li was recently named Canada Research Chair (CRC) in Machine Learning for Biomedical Data Science. The news of his appointment was also accompanied by the reappointment of Brock Associate Professor Julia Baird CRC on Human Dimensions of Water Resources and Water Resilience.

Li’s research is supported by a $139,302 grant from the Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF)which Li plans to use to create Brock’s Biomedical Data Science Lab.

The lab’s equipment will include a high-performance multi-GPU server and data storage server for large-scale biomedical data processing and analysis.

“The lab is expected to build research leadership and become a hub for data science innovation to connect and collaborate with regional innovators from the university, community, industry, and government,” Li says.

Using computer technology, Li and his team create algorithms that separate and group objects such as microscopic cells, DNA strands and proteins from raw medical images and other samples.

Computing technology can then dive deep into how these groups of objects interact with each other, producing information in efficient and timely ways beyond the reach of human effort, Li says.

“With biomedical images, for example, it would take too long for humans to segment cells from a large image,” Li says. segment them all by hand?”

He says the algorithms he and his team are developing “literally” teach “software to better understand the biological information in a data set, and then fulfill all of the required goals, with the goal of improving and streamlining drug design.” “.

In the case of drug development, the algorithms will help ensure that the drug reaches the area of ​​the body affected by the disease and will have the desired effect.

Li and his team will also design new algorithms to fill in the gaps in cases where there are too few images and other data for meaningful analysis.

The team, which includes 14 students, has a research partnership with the British Columbia Cancer Research Centre, the University of Ottawa and the National Research Council to design new cancer drugs.

Other projects include drug development to combat COVID and hair loss.

“As CRC, I hope through research to change our health, improve our community, and equip students not only with knowledge and skills, but also with guidance on how they can pursue their own research journey” , says Li.

“The federal government’s Canada Research Chairs program recognizes world-class researchers whose innovative work contributes to the betterment of Canadian society and beyond,” said Tim Kenyon, vice-president of research at the ‘Brock University.

“Dr. Li’s groundbreaking work will advance the ability of AI to support the health and well-being of all Canadians, while contributing significantly to the development of the field of bioinformatics.

In addition to Li’s new position, Baird’s CRC has been renewed for another five years.

The associate professor uses her chair to improve understanding of how to effectively manage water resources and support long-term water sustainability, using resilience as the focus for this work.

Baird and Li are among 10 CRCs at Brock University. The University has a total of 14 CRC stipends.

The Canada Research Chairs Program invests up to $311 million annually to attract and retain some of the world’s most accomplished and promising minds. Chairholders aim to achieve excellence in research in engineering and in the natural sciences, in the health sciences, in the humanities and in the social sciences.

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