New Turing AI Fellows to deliver world-class AI research

Leading UK researchers, including Professor Christopher Yau from The University of Manchester, will develop cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies through prestigious fellowships announced today.

The novel AI techniques they will develop could have wide-ranging impact, for example through combatting cancer, developing digital twins that can aid us in modelling and understanding air pollution and improving cybersecurity through developing more robust and transparent AI algorithms.

Fifteen researchers have been awarded Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships, named after AI pioneer Alan Turing and supported by a £20million government investment, being delivered by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to lead innovative and creative AI research with transformative impact.

Professor Yau aims to develop novel AI-driven predictive models that will allow us to describe how cancers evolve at the molecular level.

He aims to exploit the fact that cancers, whilst never exactly identical, often share similar development trajectories which we can learn about by collating information from across deep high-resolution molecular profiles of many cancers.

By embedding our extensive biological knowledge of cancer within AI models, he will develop intelligent systems that will produce predictions that are more realistic, interpretable and better explain the progression of cancers.

This will help to improve the efficiency of drug development, decisions on treatment and to provide patients with more information about their illness.

He said “I am very excited to have been awarded this Fellowship which will enable me to conduct ground-breaking research at the intersection of genomics and artificial intelligence. Genomics will yield unprecedented amounts of data which necessitate the use of AI for their interpretation.

“I will be developing novel clinical information systems to provide cancer patients and clinicians with the very best genomics-guided personalised care to improve treatment effectiveness and survival rates. I am especially pleased to be working with a range of project partners, including Ovarian Cancer Action, to ensure that my research is conducted in partnership with patients.”

Science Minister, Amanda Solloway said: “The UK is the birthplace of artificial intelligence and we therefore have a duty to arm the next generation of Alan Turings with the tools that will keep the UK at the forefront of this remarkable technological innovation.

“Manchester is a hotbed for innovation and the inspiring AI project we are backing today to help identify cancer faster could help to save lives and transform how we live, while cementing the UK’s status as a world leader in AI and data.”

Digital Minister, Caroline Dinenage, said: “The UK is a nation of innovators and this government investment will help our talented academics use cutting-edge technology to improve people’s daily lives – from delivering better disease diagnosis to managing our energy needs.”

The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will accelerate and support the careers of a diverse cadre of the best and brightest AI researchers enabling them to become world-leading researchers in the five years of the award. This will sustain and strengthen the UK’s leading international position in AI.

These fellowships will increase collaboration between academia and industry, with each fellow bringing together a wide range of partners on their projects to accelerate the impact of their transformative AI technologies. Partners have already committed to cash and in-kind contributions in excess of £10m.

The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships are part of the £46 million investment in Turing AI Fellowships, which was announced in the 2018 Budget following the government’s review of the UK AI industry.

Five fellowships have previously been awarded and the Turing AI World-Leading Researcher Fellowships call is in progress. These fellowships are part of a major government investment in AI skills and research which also includes 16 UKRI Centres for Doctoral Training in AI announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The Turing AI Fellowships are delivered through UKRI’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), in partnership with the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, Office for AI and the Alan Turing Institute.

EPSRC Executive Chair Professor Dame Lynn Gladden said: “The Turing AI Acceleration Fellowships will support some of our leading researchers to progress their careers and develop ground-breaking AI technologies with societal impact.

“By enhancing collaboration between academia and industry and accelerating these transformative technologies these Fellowships will help to maintain and build on the UK’s position as a world leader in AI.”