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A Computer Scientist's Approach to Medicine

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An artist's interpretation of the intersection of computer science and biological research. ections

An MIT researcher uses computer science to help solve biological problems.


Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist Stephanie Seneff applies her natural language processing research to solving biological problems.

Seneff began using computer science in human biology by comparing the side effects of statin drugs to other drugs, which led her to focus on the relationship between nutrition and health. Seneff then modified a natural language processing algorithm that she and her colleagues had developed to study the interaction between health and environmental factors such as drugs and toxic chemicals. The algorithm analyzes research papers and testimonials of drug side effects for notable statistical frequencies of key symptom-related words and biological terms.

Seneff next correlates keywords that appear together in the same paragraph or the same drug side effect report, and applies the results to research literature to link symptoms documented in the side effect reports, biologically-related words in research literature, and environmental toxins or medications used by the selected population.

Seneff's research has linked herbicides to problems with the body's gut bacteria, essential amino acid loss, and interference with necessary enzymes, which could result in conditions such as obesity, Alzheimer's, and autism.

From MIT News
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