The Michigan Engineer News Center

Laura Balzano aims to improve precision medicine as a Fulbright Scholar

Balzano will work with Portuguese researcher Mário Figueiredo to develop new machine learning methods impacting medical diagnosis and treatment.| Short Read
EnlargeLaura Balzano

Prof. Laura Balzano will be traveling to Portugal in 2020 to spend three months studying with Prof. Mário Figueiredo at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST) as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar with the goal of developing new machine learning methods that will improve precision medicine in the long run.

Specific areas of application are medical imaging for cancer diagnosis, and health outcome prediction from electronic medical record (EMR) time series data. These applications present two novel challenges poorly addressed by traditional statistical learning and artificial intelligence algorithms.

Balzano will address the challenge of missing data, one of the most critical issues facing data analysis today and affecting nearly every data collection effort. Figueiredo will focus on highly correlated prediction variables, which have the potential of confounding scientific predictions.

Together, Balzano and Figueiredo intend to develop mathematical theory and algorithms for solving a novel optimization problem with extensive applications in statistical inference and machine learning. The researchers will have access to two large databases collected by the Portuguese Society of Rheumatology, which will allow testing of the developed methods on real data.

“I’m excited to be working on a project with such high potential for developing novel and fundamental mathematics,” said Balzano, who has been collaborating with Figueiredo since the Artificial Intelligence and Statistics conference of 2016.

About the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program

The Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program supports U.S. scholars, faculty, administrators and independent professionals to teach, research or do a combination of both in over 125 countries in the world.  Nearly 470 awards are offered in 46 disciplines.

Specific areas of research specialty include Cyber Security, Mobile Technologies and Multimedia, Energy, and Electrical Engineering, though the grant is available for research and activities in most any specialty.

The deadline for 2020-21 is September 16, 2019.

Sign up to receive information about the Fulbright Scholar Program.

Laura Balzano
The electrons absorb laser light and set up “momentum combs” (the hills) spanning the energy valleys within the material (the red line). When the electrons have an energy allowed by the quantum mechanical structure of the material—and also touch the edge of the valley—they emit light. This is why some teeth of the combs are bright and some are dark. By measuring the emitted light and precisely locating its source, the research mapped out the energy valleys in a 2D crystal of tungsten diselenide. Credit: Markus Borsch, Quantum Science Theory Lab, University of Michigan.

Mapping quantum structures with light to unlock their capabilities

Rather than installing new “2D” semiconductors in devices to see what they can do, this new method puts them through their paces with lasers and light detectors. | Medium Read