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MIT professor wins top AI award for cancer, drug research

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 23, 2020

Regina Barzilay, a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, poses at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., on April 5, 2017.   (Associated Press)
Regina Barzilay, a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, poses at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., on April 5, 2017.  (Associated Press)
Associated Press

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — A Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor using computer science to detect cancer and discover new drugs has won a new $1 million award for artificial intelligence.

The world’s biggest AI society awarded its top prize Wednesday to Regina Barzilay, a professor at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

MIT says Barzilay is a breast cancer survivor whose 2014 diagnosis led her to shift her AI work to creating systems for drug development and early cancer diagnosis.

Her early diagnosis tool has been tested in multiple hospitals, including Boston’s Massachusetts General Hospital and others in Taiwan and Sweden.

She’s the inaugural winner of the new annual award given by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and funded by Chinese online education company Squirrel AI.

It’s meant to elevate AI advancements to the level of a Nobel Prize or computer science’s Turing Award, while also highlighting AI research that benefits society.

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