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Newly established Center for Applied AI in Protein Dynamics launching with the DSI a bootcamp program for graduate students 

Posted by on Tuesday, April 18, 2023 in Newsletter, School of Medicine.

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Basic Sciences recently established the Center for Applied Artificial Intelligence in Protein Dynamics, led by Hassane Mchaourab, to explore the intersection of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and macromolecular mechanisms to understand protein structures and their functions in the human body. The center’s research aims to drive breakthroughs that could broadly impact human health, and its outreach programs are geared towards increasing awareness of AI’s role in shaping society and improving human health.

In partnership with the Data Science Institute, the Center for Applied AI in Protein Dynamics will host its first joint summer AI-bootcamp program. This program is aimed at bringing together graduate students from the basic sciences and the Data Science Institute’s MS DS students to participate in didactic and practical training in AI/machine learning technologies.

The four-week course will run from May 8 to June 2, with the newly launched AI-assisted programming class being offered for the first two weeks, while the June class will focus on Transformer models that are widely used in machine learning. DSI students will receive a stipend for the ten weeks of the summer program.

Starting on June 5, students from the biomedical sciences and the DSI will form teams to tackle limited research problems, ideally selected from the laboratory of the students in the basic sciences. The program has a limited number of students, and interested students can apply by filling out the application form on the program’s website before the deadline of Monday, May 1, 2023.

The program’s organizers, Hassane S. Mchaourab, Ph.D., the Louise B. McGavock Professor and Director of the Center for Applied AI in Protein Dynamics, and Jesse Spenser-Smith, Ph.D., the Interim Director of the Data Science Institute and Chief Data Scientist, believe that this program has the potential to bring significant benefits to the participating students. It will enable them to gain practical knowledge, collaborate with peers from different backgrounds, and develop critical problem-solving skills while tackling limited research problems.

Mchaourab founded the Program in the Molecular Basis of Genetic Diseases, which investigates the links among genetic mutations, protein function, and the way disease presents in a patient. This program will be incorporated into the new Center for Applied AI in Protein Dynamics. Mchaourab and Jens Meiler, research professor of chemistry, have successfully leveraged AI methods to capture proteins in the shape-shifting act, providing new information on the mechanisms of genetic diseases and expanding available approaches to the discovery of therapeutics.

The outreach programs of the Center for Applied AI in Protein Dynamics, particularly in underrepresented communities, aim to increase awareness of the potential of AI in shaping society and improving human health. Mchaourab believes that AI and machine learning are transforming human communication and are being used to understand and design biological machinery. The center’s work has unlimited possibilities to improve human health by understanding protein dynamics and developing targeted therapeutics.

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