MIT professor Regina Barzilay won the $1m Squirrel AI Award for her work on machine learning models to develops drugs and diagnose breast cancer. Barzilay, a breast cancer survivor, is a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
- The award, given by the nonprofit Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, recognizes achievements in AI that benefit humanity. Online education company Squirrel AI provides the $1m prize.
- Barzilay was chosen for her research developing deep ML models for molecule candidates and drug discovery, including anew antibiotic called Halicin, which can kill various species of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
- She has also developed algorithms for early diagnosis and risk assessment of breast cancer and is working to roll out these diagnostic tools to underprivileged populations. Unlike similar tools, Barzilay’s model has been shown to be equally accurate for white and black women.
- In addition to being a professor, Barzilay co-leads MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health, which is working on AI Cures for COVID-19 antivirals, and is a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.
- The Association of Computing Machinery’s A.M. Turing Award and the Nobel Prize also give out monetary awards at the million-dollar level.