St. Thomas Engineer Magazine


Dr. Chih Lai, second from right, and his international student team, from the left, Avani Saklecha, Akhil Ambekar, Zinyue Alice Sui and Zezheng Andy Long. Not pictured: Stefan Kramer.

complex AOP network is a daunting task. If we can predict possible chain events, biochemists can focus their efforts on examining more likely pathways, making AOP development more effective. My research teamand I were invited by the National Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research (UFZ) inGermany to apply artificial intelligence techniques to predict possibleAOPs. The research teamplans to train deep neural networks (DNNs) to absorb knowledge from16million medical journal papers. Since AOPs can be easily tested and observed in fish embryos, our team also is training DNNs in examining thousands of zebrafish embryo images to predict organ morphology from different toxic exposures.

Our research team includes Dr. Dalma Martinović-Weigelt of the Biology Department and five international students in the Graduate Program in Software of the School of Engineering and UFZ in Germany: Xinyue Alice Sui and Zezheng Andy Long from China, Avani Saklecha and Akhil Ambekar from India and Stefan Kramer from Germany. I’m also serving as a visiting scientist at UFZ and my work is sponsored by the Deutsch Scholarship for Exchange Scientist Program in 2019. Some of the students frommy team recently graduated with a master’s degree in data science: Saklecha is a senior data scientist at Target Corp., Long is an AI quantitative model analyst at U.S. Bank and Sui is a data engineer at Bluestem Brands Inc.


Mapping human genomes helps scientists understand the connections between gene mutations and diseases. However, genetic disorders account for about just 10% of known human diseases. The rest are triggered by exposure to chemicals in our environment. Exposing humans to different combinations of chemicals in different amounts for different lengths in different stages of our lives may have different ripple impacts to our tissues, organs, and eventually, diseases. These chain events are referred to as Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs). Mapping out millions of possible pathways in this

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