New Delhi – In a groundbreaking achievement, Prof. Debarka Sengupta, Associate Professor of Computational Biology and Computer Science at the Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology Delhi (IIIT-Delhi), and the head of Infosys Centre for Artificial Intelligence at IIIT-Delhi, has been awarded the prestigious Merck Young Scientist Award. Merck Life Science, a renowned pharmaceutical company with a legacy spanning 350 years, recognized Prof. Sengupta for his exceptional work in harnessing Artificial Intelligence (AI) for blood-based cancer detection and personalized treatment.
The award ceremony, held in Bangalore on November 24th, 2023, stands as a significant milestone in Prof. Sengupta’s illustrious scientific journey, highlighting his unwavering dedication and outstanding contributions to advancing AI applications in cancer research.
Cancer, an ailment claiming approximately 10 million lives annually, poses significant challenges in detection and management due to cell heterogeneity and plasticity. Prof. Sengupta’s innovative approach utilizes AI to navigate these challenges across various fronts.
In the realm of early cancer detection, Prof. Sengupta’s team employs a pioneering strategy, integrating single-cell and bulk transcriptomics with cutting-edge AI techniques. The ultimate goal is to develop affordable and efficient blood-based cancer detection methods, revolutionizing early diagnosis.
Addressing the intricate landscape of cancer genome-therapy interactions, Prof. Sengupta’s team, in collaboration with Australian prostate cancer researchers led by Prof. Colleen Nelson, leveraged public data to model drug responses across different contexts, advancing precision medicine. Navigating the complex space of transcriptomic configurations and chemical compounds, the team harnesses AI to identify molecular patterns, surpassing traditional biomarkers and providing a comprehensive perspective on cancer detection and treatment.
A notable accomplishment includes the successful recognition of single circulating Triple Negative Breast Cancer Cells (TNBCs) based on AI-identified molecular patterns, even in the absence of canonical biomarkers. This breakthrough collaboration involved Dr. Naveen Ramalingam, a senior director of assays at Standard BioTools Inc., USA.
Prof. Sengupta’s Merck Young Scientist Award not only acknowledges his individual accomplishments but also recognizes the collective efforts of the scientific community in pushing the boundaries of AI applications in cancer research.