Industry experts discuss role of advanced computing in biotech


A panel of industry experts say that advanced computing techniques can solve some of the toughest problems in biotechnology, such as combing through massive datasets and modeling drug interactions.

Shannon Bruse, co-founder and head of discovery for a biotech firm called Empirico, explained during a recent panel discussion that his company integrates computing at nearly every level of operation. The virtual event was hosted by UW-Madison’s Innovate Network and the Forward BIO Institute as part of Madison’s Forward Festival.

“What we do is combine genetic data with health information from millions of individuals and we can learn about the effects of altered gene function and we can design drugs that mimic those human mutations,” Bruse said yesterday. “The problem is, the scale of the data we’re dealing with.”

Because Empirico combines information from so many individuals and disease variants, straightforward analysis can lead to billions and even trillions of data points, making it nearly impossible for humans to understand the results at face value. But by applying machine learning models to organize the results, Bruse said his team can reduce those numbers to the thousands, making results much more accessible. Read more …

Watch a video of the event …