Pistoia Alliance announces start-up of a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML). This development is driven by our desire to support our members in the understanding and pursuit of innovative new AI/ML applications and solutions within Life Sciences R&D & Health.

Although AI/ML methods have been developed for a long time, for many decades they remained a playground of a small community of highly specialised experts. Only with recent advances in software & GPU compute power the use of AI/ML has become commonplace. The emergent popularity of AI/ML tools has created an appearance of ease of application of these technologies. However in our industry analysis we have found some key barriers to progress, including data quality & breadth issues, lots of fragmented views on best practice, and limited numbers of qualified practitioners. This spurred the establishment of the AI/ML strategic theme in Pistoia in 2017 that now resulted in creation of this CoE.

The Pistoia Alliance believes that AI/ML has the potential to transform large aspects of the Life Sciences and Health workflows. On the other hand we believe that this transformation won’t replace the human mind required in the research scenario. Science requires interdisciplinary expertise and judgement that a machine cannot provide.

“What I cannot create, I do not understand.”

—Richard Feynman


The Pistoia Alliance has adopted a broad definition of “artificial intelligence” to include other processes that fall under the umbrella of AI – such as machine learning, deep learning, neural nets, and chatbots. We decided on this scope to cater for the significant amount of interest in all areas of AI from our members.

The Pistoia Alliance is currently working to establish the steps needed to turn the widespread adoption of AI/ML into a reality. We want to see how the greater community can help the industry overcome many of the obstacles it is currently facing.

How will the project do this

To do this, the Centre of Excellence is organising events, webinars, and hackathons, which will cover a range of challenges aimed at kicking off AI projects or prototype AIs. This will help us to work out where the main challenges are, and to establish an adoption strategy that serves these needs. The Pistoia Alliance’s community also provides a virtual and physical co-working space, enabling life science professionals to share best practice and learn how best to apply AI, machine, and deep learning to R&D – wherever they are in the world.

Further Information

Community Wiki Page

Centre of Excellence Agendas and material

Register for AI Monthly Newsletter and Community

How to get involved

If you would like to participate or have any further questions, please contact our project manager Vladimir Makarov (vladimir dot makarov at pistoiaalliance.org) or Nick Lynch (nick dot lynch at pistoiaalliance.org).

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