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11 Inspiring Women Advancing Artificial Intelligence In Life Sciences

In this post, we decided to highlight eleven entrepreneurial women, leading the way in applying advanced computational technologies, such as machine learning (ML), deep learning (DL), and other artificial intelligence (AI) components, for tackling some of the hardest challenges of science -- in drug discovery and healthcare. This list is composed in alphabetical order. 

Loubna Bouarfa, PhD

Loubna Bouarfa grew up in Morocco, at the age of 17 she moved to the Netherlands, and later to the UK. She graduated from the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands with a B.Sc. degree in Electrical Engineering and a M.Sc in Informational Technology. Bouarfa also holds a PhD in Machine Learning and has 13 years of experience in deploying AI for real-world applications.

Research highlights
Applying ML techniques in real-world environments, outlier detection, context discovery

Why?
In 2016 Loubna founded an AI company - OKRA Technologies. OKRA supports the life sciences industry in bringing the right drug to the right patient at speed. OKRA’s AI systems allow executives and professionals in the field to analyze their data and get fast and valuable insights that help them save and improve lives. Loubna was recognized as a Forbes European Top 50 Women In Tech, an MIT Technology Review Top Innovator Under 35, and OKRA won the prize for Best Female-Led Startup at the StartUp Europe Awards. Loubna is currently a member of the European Commission High-Level Expert on Artificial Intelligence. She authored 5 scientific publications.

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.nl/citations?user=tSmHnaIAAAAJ&hl=en

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 7, Google Scholar (all)
Citations: 270, Google Scholar (all)

ResearchGate Profile
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Loubna_Bouarfa
ResearchGate Score  8.2

 

Darnisha Grant Harrison

Darnisha Grant Harrison studied Microbiology and Chemistry at Louisiana State University. She was a researcher at the University of Georgia and Amgen, and spent more than 16 years in Business Development and Licensing, being a Director in pharma companies, such as Metrics, Inc., Banner Pharmacaps, Norwich Pharmaceuticals, JRS Pharma/Penwest Pharmaceuticals. 

Research highlights
treatment against mosquito-borne diseases

Why?
Darnisha Harrison is a founder and CEO of Ennaid Therapeutics, a company that develops treatment against mosquito-borne diseases, including Zika virus and dengue virus. Darnisha is a member of American Association for the Advancement of Science, the New York Academy of Sciences, The World Chamber of Commerce and Women In BIO. She is a recognized negotiator and deal-maker in drug discovery collaboration.

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: Scopus N/A, Scholar N/A
Citations: Scopus N/A, Scholar N/A

 

Nora Khaldi, PhD

Nora Khaldi is a mathematician with a Master’s degree from Université Aix-Marseille. She obtained PhD in Bioinformatics and Molecular Evolution from Trinity College Dublin in 2008. She was also a visiting scholar at the University of California, Davis, and was granted prestigious awards during her study, including the Marie Curie Foundation.

Research highlights
peptidomic analysis of human milk digestion, prediction of enzymatic cleavages of digested proteins  

Why?
Nora is a founder and CSO of Nuritas, a platform that combines AI and genomics to develop healthy food that improves human longevity. She authorized publications that provided first insights into gene transfer between multicellular species. In total, she is an author of 25 scientific publications.

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 11, Scopus (all), authorid 24174518700
Citations: 1133, Scopus (all)

ResearchGate Profile
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Nora_Khaldi
ResearchGate Score 24.66

 

Jennifer Listgarten, PhD

Since Jan. 2018, Jennifer Listgarten is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and Center for Computational Biology, at the University of California, Berkeley. She has two undergraduate degrees, one in Physics and one in Computer Science, from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. She completed her Ph.D. in the machine learning group in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto, located in her hometown. She is also a member of the steering committee for the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Lab, and a Chan Zuckerberg investigator. From 2007 to 2017 she was at Microsoft Research, through Cambridge, MA (2014-2017), Los Angeles (2008-2014), and Redmond, WA (2007-2008).

Research highlights
models for genome-wide association studies, computational methods for comparative proteomic profiling, protein biomarker discovery

Why?
Jennifer's research interests are broadly at the intersection of machine learning, applied statistics, molecular biology and science. She authored 49 academic publications including recent paper ‘Rethinking drug design in the artificial intelligence era’ published in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery in 2019.

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.ru/citations?user=jhPhgf4AAAAJ

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 28, Scholar (all)
Citations: 5143, Scholar (all)

 

Meena Nagarajan, PhD

Meena Nagarajan completed her MS in computer science at the University of Georgia and her Ph.D. in computer science at the Wright State University. In 2010, she started her career as a research scientist in Natural Language Processing & Machine Learning applied to industry verticals at IBM. In 2016, she started to work on strategy and execution of AI/ML products and metrics on Facebook.

Research highlights
semantic analytics on social networks, mining scientific literature, analysis of citizen sensor data

Why?
During her work at IBM, she was involved in developing  2 Watson for Healthcare solutions: Watson for Drug Discovery and Watson for Patient Safety. She authored 27 academic publications.

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=MqYog5sAAAAJ

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 23, Scholar (all)
Citations: 2549, Scholar (all)


 

Elizabeth O’Day, PhD

Elizebeth O’Day holds a BS degree from Boston College in Biochemistry, where she was bestowed numerous prestigious undergraduate awards and honors, Rev. Finnegan Award among them. She received a Master’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Cambridge and became one of 11 American scientists awarded a Winston Churchill fellowship. Elizabeth obtained a PhD at Harvard University, where she was a National Science Foundation fellow.

Research highlights
MicroRNAs and their target gene networks in breast cancer  

Why?
Elizabeth is a CEO and founder of Olaris, the company that aims to improve patient's benefit from treatment by analyzing their metabolic profiles by using customized machine learning algorithms. Dr. O'Day was an invited speaker at the annual meeting in Davos, she is  the co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Biotechnology and a member of the advisory board for the Precision Medicine Initiative. Additionally, Dr. Elizebeth O’Day teaches metabolism and entrepreneurship at Boston College. 

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 13, Scopus (all), authorid 14822462500
Citations: 1328, Scopus (all)

 

Leila Pirhaji, PhD

Leila Pirhaji is an alumnus of the University of Tehran, she studied biotechnology there and then moved to the US where she obtained a PhD from MIT at Prof. Ernest Fraenkel laboratory. She also worked in large pharmaceutical companies, including Merck and Takeda. Leila was selected as a TED Fellow in recognition for her work on a combination of AI and biology.  

Research highlights
identification of therapeutic targets, disease-associated pathways, gene regulatory networks

Why?
While studying at MIT, Leila developed pioneering machine learning algorithms that can select the best therapies based on analyzing the metabolic composition, and published it in the Nature Methods. This work became a basic technology for the ReviveMed startup, that Leila Pirhaji founded. 

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=7h5NmoUAAAAJ&hl=en

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 7, Scholar (all)
Citations: 266, Scholar (all)

ResearchGate Profile
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Leila_Pirhaji
ResearchGate Score 20.41

 

Deepta Rajan

Deepta Rajan received her M.S. in Electrical Engineering (specializing in Signal/Image Processing) from Arizona State University. Previously, she worked as embedded systems and algorithm developer in the wearable devices industry (InvenSense Inc. and Salutron Inc.). Since Apr 2018, she has been a Senior Research Software Engineer at IBM.

Research highlights
clinical time series analysis, health monitoring laboratories, automated tumor segmentation

Why?  
Deepta Rajan is the lead algorithm developer in Watson for clinical time-series (EHR, ECG, EEG etc.) analysis products. Her interests are relating to the development of innovative solutions thereby helping create value and impact for millions of end-users. She authored 13 academic publications.

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.ru/citations?user=G5uohLMAAAAJ

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 7, Scholar (all)
Citations: 180, Scholar (all)

ResearchGate Profile
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Deepta_Rajan
ResearchGate Score 2.95

 

Noor Shaker, PhD

Noor Shaker received her B.A. in computer science at the University of Damascus, Syria, specializing in artificial intelligence studies. She studied a masters in Artificial Intelligence at KU Leuven, Belgium. In 2009, she moved to Denmark to study a Ph.D. and received her PhD in Artificial Intelligence from the IT University of Copenhagen.  She did postdoctoral work at the IT University of Copenhagen. She remained in Copenhagen for several years, being appointed an assistant professor at Aalborg University in 2016.  

Research highlights
content generation in games, affective computing, representation learning on molecular graphs

Why?
Noor Shaker is a Syrian entrepreneur and computer scientist who co-founded the AI-driven drug discovery startup GTN Ltd in 2017, and later founded her next company -- Glamorous.AI, which combines human and machine intelligence to augment drug discovery and enable applications where only limited data points are available. During her professorial career, she focused on machine learning models in video games and authored over thirty-five academic publications.

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.ru/citations?user=OK9tw1AAAAAJ

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 22, Scholar (all)
Citations: 2019, Scholar (all)

ResearchGate Profile
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Noor_Shaker2
ResearchGate Score 10.29

 

Elena Tutubalina, PhD

Elena received her undergraduate degree in computer science at the Kazan Federal University (KFU), Russia, located in her hometown. She completed her Ph.D. in the machine learning (ML) & natural language processing (NLP) group at the KFU. She remained in the Chemoinformatics and Molecular Modeling Laboratory at the KFU, where a group of Ph.D. students under her supervision focused on NLP applications for pharmacovigilance and public health monitoring. Since 2017, Elena Tutubalina has been a senior AI researcher in Insilico Medicine for outcome prediction in clinical trials.  

Research highlights
clinical trials outcome prediction, detection of adverse drug reactions, neural models for ICD-10 coding

Why?  
In Insilico Medicine, Elena Tutubalina leads a group of ML scientists on ML and NLP applications for the prediction of clinical trial outcomes. She authored 40 academic publications.

Scholar Profile
https://scholar.google.ru/citations?user=npM9yekAAAAJ

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: 9, Scholar (all)
Citations: 300, Scholar (all)

ResearchGate Profile
https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Elena_Tutubalina
ResearchGate Score 13.17

 

Alice Zhang, PhD

Alice Zhang graduated from Princeton University with high honors in Molecular Biology in 2010. Then she enrolled in the MD/PhD program at UCLA’s School of Medicine, where she worked in the laboratory of neurogeneticist Daniel Geschwind. She left the program in 2015, before graduating, and moved to Silicon Value to establish a company that would change the traditional approaches to drug development for neurodegenerative diseases. 

Research highlights
Alzheimer's disease, dementia, leads for neurodegenerative disorders

Why?
Alice is the CEO and co-founder of Verge Genomics. She is pursuing a goal to create drugs against ALS, Alzheimer's disease and dementia, and speed up the drug discovery process by applying AI to analyze complex interactions between many genes. She managed to arrange a neuroscience laboratory facility to empower AI with enough experimental data. Verge Genomics successfully indicated several leads against neurodegenerative disorders, increasing DD success rate up to 15%. Alice has received numerous awards, including Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, the Forbes' 30 under 30 in Science, and the SF Business Times' 40 under 40 awards. 

Stats as of May, 2020
H-Index: Scholar N/A
Citations: Scholar N/A

 

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