Nov 15, 2018

Michael Jordan and Bin Yu selected for Chan–Zuckerberg Research Awards

IMS Fellows Michael I. Jordan (UC Berkeley) and Bin Yu (UC Berkeley) are working on two of the six projects that have just received a highly selective Chan–Zuckerberg Intercampus Research Award. Only six awards were made, out of 83 applications; these projects will collectively receive $9.7 million over three years.

Michael Jordan is one of the Project Leaders for the team working on “Machine learning for interpreting rare genetic variation in comprehensive newborn screening and pharmacogenetics.” In California, 500,000 babies are born each year, some of whom have genetic mutations that cause disease or altered responses to medications. Recognizing which genetic variants cause problems is surprisingly difficult, impeding the use of genetic information to inform early intervention or the customization of patient care. The team has drawn together experts in biology, computer science, medicine, and ethics to develop new methods for identifying genetic variants that cause disease, focusing on serious newborn diseases and on gene variants that affect patient responses to medications. The team will collect experimental data and develop innovative machine learning techniques to predict the functional consequences of genetic variants.

Bin Yu is one of the Project Leaders of a team which will work on “Multi-scale deep learning and single-cell models of cardiovascular health.” The team will develop methods to accelerate the pace of discovery of genetic determinants for cardiovascular disease. They will develop new statistical machine learning tools to analyze morphological and functional parameters of the heart from clinical images, an approach that can be scaled to analyze millions of images. They will also develop machine learning tools based on enhanced iterative random forests (iRF) to identify genetic variants likely to account for some of the variation in cardiovascular morphology and function observed in their analysis of clinical images, utilizing publicly available large-scale clinical data sets and local patient cohorts. Finally, they will identify genetic variants responsible for functional phenotypes using cell-based in vitro model systems.

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg are co-founders of The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The CZ Biohub, a nonprofit medical research organization, connects UC Berkeley, UCSF and Stanford to conduct “research that helps solve big health problems”, and “support the best and brightest biologists, scientists, engineers and technologists.” Read more about the awards at


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