FSU team wins global competition to develop next-generation tools and improve public health solutions


A team from Florida State University has won an international competition for developing software tools that generate visual aids demonstrating the intricate connections between vast amounts of biomedical research.

The 12-person team, led by FSU Professor of Statistics Jinfeng Zhang, won first place in the LitCoin Natural Language Processing (NLP) Challenge, hosted by the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) in partnership with NASA. Tournament lab.

The NIH and NASA invited teams to develop software solutions capable of connecting biomedical concepts from various collections of open data repositories with the aim of improving public health solutions. Scientists are processing more data than ever before, but sifting through it has also become a monumental task. Through this process, the teams looked at ways to make it easier to navigate and identify medical research.

FSU faced teams from across the country and around the world, including Australia, the Netherlands and Portugal.

“We are very happy to win but the most important thing is that we learned a lot from it, Zhang said. “I always tell my students that. It’s great to come in first place, but I think the experience, the knowledge that we have acquired, is what is most valuable.

Xufeng Niu, chair of FSU’s Department of Statistics, said the challenge aims to address inherent issues in how data is managed and accessed by researchers, especially in the broad field of biomedical research, where such assets are so valuable in solving public health problems.

“Understanding a large amount of biomedical data from many medical studies is scientifically essential and statistically challenging,” Niu said. “Dr. Jinfeng Zhang and his team have been working on big data analysis, text mining and search engine optimization for 10 years.

The FSU team also included several students and a handful of faculty members and alumni who wanted to get involved after hearing about the challenge. Team members included:

  • Jinfeng Zhang, Professor, Department of Statistics
  • Yuan Zhang, Research Professor, Department of Statistics
  • Feng Pan, Researcher, Department of Statistics
  • Xin Sui, graduate student, Department of Statistics
  • Keqiao Li, Graduate Student, Department of Statistics
  • Shubo Tian, ​​Graduate Student, Department of Statistics
  • Arslan Erdengasileng, Graduate Student, Department of Statistics
  • Qing Han, Graduate Student, Department of Statistics
  • Wanjing Wang, Graduate Student, Department of Statistics
  • Kaixian Yu, alumnus, Department of Statistics
  • Jian Wang, former student, Department of Mathematics
  • Tingting Zhao, Associate Professor, Department of Geography

Competitors used information from published abstracts to create natural language processing systems capable of recognizing biomedical concepts and the relationships between them.

NCATS said software packages designed for the NLP Challenge will be used to help create web development tools with the goal of creating a new type of biomedical publication. This will encourage the sharing of computer-accessible data as soon as they are published, with the aim of changing the way research findings are compiled for use in developing public health policy and new treatments and cures.

Niu said the team’s winning work illustrates how the department has a direct impact on the international research community.

“Dr. Zhang’s team winning the LitCoin Natural Language Processing Challenge is a huge breakthrough. My department and I are very proud of this significant achievement,” Niu said. Zhang to continue her outstanding performance in the development of cutting-edge techniques in the field of biomedical data analysis and identification of new medical treatments.”

For more information about the NLP Challenge and to see the full list of winning teams, visit ncats.nih.gov.

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