Last summer, researchers gained access to data-processing power 10 times greater than ever before seen at Case Western Reserve. The arrival of the nearly $1 million Artificial Intelligence (AI) SuperComputer—funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Ohio Department of Education and the university—is propelling big- data and machine-learning research across the entire campus.
Within the Department of Computer and Data Sciences, Chair Vipin Chaudhary helps lead a $20 million, multi-institutional NSF project to democratize artificial intelligence, notably building AI systems for agriculture and wildlife management.
Meanwhile, the materials science and engineering department, for one, is co-leading a $3 million NSF-supported Center for Materials Data Science for Reliability and Degradation to help companies make more durable and dependable products, while the university has licensed CWRU-developed AI technology that can identify which lung cancer patients would benefit from chemotherapy.
“From advancing cancer detection to analyzing the deterioration of nuclear materials,” said Case School of Engineering Dean Venkataramanan “Ragu” Balakrishnan, “AI and supercomputing are at the core of our most innovative initiatives.”
Whether it be the medical school or the sociology department or any of the other engineering programs, everyone is going to be influenced by [AI].
Alumnus Kevin Kranzusch, whose most recent $5 million gift aims to expand the computer and data sciences department through endowed professorships, interdisciplinary collaborations and improved facilities
NSF initiative that funds 11 AI institutes, including the $20M initiative CWRU co-leads
Making Residence Hall Dreams Restaurant Realities
College students know well the difficulties of eating healthy on a budget. Luckily, Michael Zhou and Daniel Lee were up for the challenge. With support from the university’s Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship and a pitch competition in Florida, the duo launched Redheart, a startup aiming to create easy access to affordable, healthy food.
After researching their audience and finding their nutritious-nosh niche during a semester-long partnership with on-campus restaurant Jolly Scholar, Zhou and Lee grew the business. They now operate new restaurant concepts out of a ghost kitchen—a rented space in Cleveland where they prepare food for customers— and are launching their first consumer product: a protein cookie expected to hit shelves this year.
and counting for student startups
Stroke of Genius
Imagine if looking at a brushstroke on a painting could identify its artist. A team of engineers, physicists and art historians at Case Western Reserve University and partner institutions have made the idea a reality using 3D topography, a new way for artificial intelligence to “see” the smallest structures on surfaces such as paintings.
Those masters didn’t leave notes from their workshops: ‘Hey, art historians 500 years from now, here’s how we did it.’ So being able to scan a painting and learn which areas were painted by different hands could be extremely valuable information to connoisseurs.
Art History and Art Department Chair Betsy Bolman
It’s a technique that could lead to giant strides in the art world, whether identifying forgeries or uncovering unknown contributors to masterpieces.
Eyes on an Ethical Future
If the possibilities of artificial intelligence (AI) leave you wary, you’re not alone. As a scholar of ethics and AI/emerging technology at Case Western Reserve, Daniel Rosiak is working to answer the question: “What do we want the AI to want?”
For Rosiak, the goal is a future in which technology acts with human interests in mind—and, through his role in the university’s Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence, he hopes to raise ethical issues before they become problematic.
Bringing Breakthroughs to Market
A device smaller than a vitamin pill could be key to catching a lethal cancer early.
And, thanks to an agreement with Lucid Diagnostics, it has the chance to deliver on that promise.
The researchers responsible for the breakthrough—Sanford “Sandy” Markowitz, Amitabh Chak and Joseph Willis—marked Lucid’s $70 million initial public offering by ringing the Nasdaq Stock Market’s closing bell in the fall of 2021.
The continued research accomplishments… brought by Sandy Markowitz and his team are not only unparalleled, but bring a scientific impact halo to this school and the university that will remain a shining star for a very long period to come.
School of Medicine Dean Stan Gerson
Esophageal cancer is the world’s sixth-leading cause of death from cancer. The researchers’ test can be performed at a doctor’s office within minutes.
“This is a wonderful milestone on a path aimed at preventing death from a miserable cancer through enabling simple early detection,” said Markowitz, who—like Chak and Willis—holds appointments at Case Western Reserve and University Hospitals.
This example is just one of many that explain why Case Western Reserve ranks 21st in the world among universities receiving U.S. utility patents.
And it can be found in other headline-making translational successes from the past year, such as:
The ubiquity of electronic health records offer extraordinary opportunities for researchers to gain insights about disease and wellness. But without the knowledge needed to sift through nearly endless reams of data, the most valuable information remains untapped.
That’s where Rong Xu comes in.
The bioinformatics professor uses artificial intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning and natural language processing to uncover critical trends on everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.
Xu, former School of Medicine Deans Pamela B. Davis and Nathan Berger, and other colleagues’ COVID-19-related work made international headlines last year— and shaped understanding of a constantly changing pandemic. Among their published findings: COVID-19 patients with substance use disorders had higher infection, hospitalization and mortality rates; people with dementia were twice as likely to get COVID-19; young children were more likely to contract the virus’s omicron variant but less likely to suffer severe symptoms; and Moderna’s vaccine was less likely than Pfizer’s to lead to “breakthrough infections.”
The prolific academic wants to ensure she can take these big data findings to the next level.
“It’s not just ‘publish a paper and that’s it,’” said Xu, director of the university’s Center for AI in Drug Discovery. “I really want to bring [drugs] to patients.”
Nobel laureates among our alumni and faculty