Biologists Say Deep Learning Is Revolutionizing Pace of Innovation


Artificial intelligence has advanced many operations and is even finding ways to revolutionize biology innovations that will accelerate drug discovery and other advances in life sciences.

Last July, DeepMind Technologies announced that its AlphaFold2 AI system had been used to predict the three-dimensional structure of nearly all proteins. Professor David Baker, a biochemist and computational biologist at the University of Washington, said the company’s work has inspired using deep learning to accelerate the design of new proteins.

Dr. Baker’s lab has nearly 80 pre- and post-doctoral students and 17 companies have spun out with his guidance over the last two decades. Due to a combination of deep learning and lab methods he estimates that innovation in his field has increased by a factor of 10 during the past 18 months.

“DeepMind showed how powerful deep learning could be. It was very natural to say, OK, how can we apply deep learning to protein design,” Baker said. “In 10 years it is possible this will be the future of medicine.”