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Sabuncu receives NSF CAREER Award

Mert Sabuncu, Assistant Professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, recently received a U.S. NSF CAREER Award from the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS).

Mert Sabuncu, Assistant Professor at the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, recently received a U.S. NSF CAREER Award from the Division of Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS). The award supports his research proposal on “New Learning-based Algorithms for the Analysis of Very-Large-Scale Neuroimaging Data” for a five-year period from 2018 through 2023 with a total amount of $581,438.

Artificial intelligence, fueled by recent advances in machine learning algorithms, progress in hardware technologies, and rapid growth of datasets, is poised to transform healthcare and biomedical research. The planned research will consider very large-scale brain imaging studies, including, for example, tens of thousands of individuals contributing head MRI scans and other biomedical data such as whole-genome sequences. Such data will allow researchers to map the effects of genetic, environmental, and other factors on the structure and function of the brain, which in turn will advance our knowledge of disorders like Alzheimer's disease. Today, the primary obstacle in exploiting very large-scale brain imaging datasets is computational, because existing software tools don't scale well and lack in quality assurance capabilities.

This project will produce a machine-learning based computational pipeline that will fill this gap. In the largest study of its kind, Sabuncu and his research team plan to showcase the developed software tools to chart the heritability of shapes of brain structures. In addition, the project will implement a diverse set of educational outreach initiatives, such as a customized research experience for under-represented minority high-school students.  

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