With AI to individual patient care

How can a customized chemotherapy be found for cancer, for example? Machine learning methods can help with this and also improve patient treatment for other diseases. The start-up project aimed analytics at the University of Bonn has developed a modular analysis system that precisely groups patients on the basis of medical Big Data. The team of Dr. Kevin Baßler, Dr. Patrick Günther and Karsten Waltemathe has now received a coveted EXIST start-up grant of 130,000 euros from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy for one year.

Innovative projects in the life sciences

Research across disciplinary boundaries: the Transdisciplinary Research Unit "Life and Health" at the University of Bonn has rewarded some of its members with its bi-annual internal research prize. For their creative and innovative approaches, the project teams, which involve up to three researchers working together receive start-up funding of 50,000 euros each. They come from the disciplines of biology, biotechnology, nutritional sciences and medicine.

"Math neurons" identified in the brain

The brain has neurons that fire specifically during certain mathematical operations. This is shown by a recent study conducted by the Universities of Tübingen and Bonn. The findings indicate that some of the neurons detected are active exclusively during additions, while others are active during subtractions. They do not care whether the calculation instruction is written down as a word or a symbol. The results have now been published in the journal Current Biology.

Eye provides clues to insidious vascular disease

Researchers at the University and the University Hospital of Bonn have developed a method that could be used to diagnose atherosclerosis. Using self-learning software, they were able to identify vascular changes in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD), often at an early stage. Although these early stages do not yet cause symptoms, they are nevertheless already associated with increased mortality. The algorithm used photos from an organ not normally associated with PAD: the eye. The results have now been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

Facial analysis improves diagnosis

Rare genetic diseases can sometimes be recognized through facial features, such as characteristically shaped brows, nose or cheeks. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now trained software that uses portrait photos to better diagnose such diseases. The improved version "GestaltMatcher" can now also detect diseases that are not yet known to it. It also manages to diagnose known diseases with very small numbers of patients. The study has now been published in the journal "Nature Genetics".

Researching Ethical AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming society as algorithms increasingly impact access to jobs and insurance, justice, medical treatments, as well as our daily interactions with friends and family. As these technologies race ahead, we are starting to see unintended social consequences: algorithms that promote everything from racial bias in healthcare to the misinformation eroding faith in democracies. To ensure AI supports core human values, the German philanthropic foundation Stiftung Mercator has awarded a €3.8 million grant to a collaboration between the Universities of Bonn and Cambridge.

Genetic engineering can have a positive effect on the climate

The use of genetically modified (GM) crops in agriculture remains contentious, especially in Europe. According to surveys, many people fear that these could have negative effects for human health and the environment. However, a new study shows that genetically modified crops could actually be good for the environment, and for the climate in particular. Results suggest that the adoption of GM crops in the European Union (EU) could reduce greenhouse gas emissions considerably. The study by scientists from the Breakthrough Institute in the USA and the University of Bonn in Germany was recently published in “Trends in Plant Science”.

Protons are probably actually smaller than long thought

A few years ago, a novel measurement technique showed that protons are probably smaller than had been assumed since the 1990s. The discrepancy surprised the scientific community; some researchers even believed that the Standard Model of particle physics would have to be changed. Physicists at the University of Bonn and the Technical University of Darmstadt have now developed a method that allows them to analyze the results of older and more recent experiments much more comprehensively than before. This also results in a smaller proton radius from the older data. So there is probably no difference between the values - no matter which measurement method they are based on. The study appeared in Physical Review Letters.

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