Artificial Intelligence: Applications and promises for healthcare at BioRN Annual Conference 2019

Current and future breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have taken root in biotech, showing huge potential to change how healthcare is delivered. Yesterday, during this year’s BioRN Annual Conference, experts in the field addressed different application opportunities for these technologies from desk, to bench, to bedside.


Gitte Neubauer (Chair BioRN Executive Board) opening the BioRN Annual Conference 2019

Heidelberg, 12 November. Over 200 participants from the cluster members gathered at the German Cancer Research Center (one of BioRN academic members) to attend an exceptional conference from BioRN members for BioRN members.


Theresia Bauer, Minister of Science, Research and the Arts in Baden-Württemberg opened the conference, addressing how AI is going to revolutionize the healthcare industry in the next 20 years, although often pushing scientists to work beyond their own comfort zones.

Nobel Laureate Stefan Hell elucidated how molecular (nanometer) optical resolution is progressing beyond any predictions, and therefore empowering life science researchers.


An intense but diverse program included several renowned speakers from industry and academia and touched different aspects of the conference topic. Computational single cell analysis and AI application in a heterogeneous cell population are taking promising steps towards personalised medicine. Scientists are dealing with a gigantic data tsunami generated by digitalization, including its value and challenges. At the same time, digitalization opens opportunities for sharing pharmacological tools for biomedical research, for example via the opnMe platform. Finally, ML and AI applications to aid drug discovery are becoming a well-established routine within the pharmaceutical industry and at academic research level.


One of the novelties of this year’s conference has been the ‘Research Short Talk’ competition. This session gave the chance to four selected academic pre- and post-doctoral fellows to present their research projects to key opinion leaders from the region. While the four projects have been selected by the BioRN scientific board, the audience nominated the winner. Nils Kurzawa pre-doctoral fellow at EMBL Heidelberg received the monetary prize of € 1000.


The conference was closed by the key note of Lindsay Edwards VP Artificial Intelligence Research for GlaxoSmithKline Pharma R&D. His talk focused on how AI is being used to tackle fundamental problems in drug discovery, as well as on the visualisation to problems in AI research.

Julia Schaft Managing Director of BioRN concluded: “It is impressive to see the involvement and participation of our members within the network. Together we invest into the development of the region into a world-leading life science cluster.”


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BioRN is the science and industry cluster of the Rhine-Main-Neckar region around Heidelberg, one of Germany’s strongest biotech hubs. It is a non-profit network fostering health innovations, supporting a rich translational ecosystem and promoting, representing and connecting the regional innovation stakeholders.

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