Daifeng Wang, PhD – Slide of the Week

Daifeng Wang, PhD - Slide of the Week

Title: Bringing machine learning to research on intellectual and developmental disabilities

Legend: An overview of the machine learning (ML) process and potential applications to intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs).

Citation: Gupta, C., Chandrashekar, P., Jin, T., He, C., Khullar, S., Chang, Q., & Wang, D. (2022). Bringing machine learning to research on intellectual and developmental disabilities: taking inspiration from neurological diseases. Journal of neurodevelopmental disorders, 14(1), 28. https://doi.org/10.1186/s11689-022-09438-w

Abstract: Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDDs), such as Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, Rett syndrome, and autism spectrum disorder, usually manifest at birth or early childhood. IDDs are characterized by significant impairment in intellectual and adaptive functioning, and both genetic and environmental factors underpin IDD biology. Molecular and genetic stratification of IDDs remain challenging mainly due to overlapping factors and comorbidity. Advances in high throughput sequencing, imaging, and tools to record behavioral data at scale have greatly enhanced our understanding of the molecular, cellular, structural, and environmental basis of some IDDs. Fueled by the “big data” revolution, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies have brought a whole new paradigm shift in computational biology. Evidently, the ML-driven approach to clinical diagnoses has the potential to augment classical methods that use symptoms and external observations, hoping to push the personalized treatment plan forward. Therefore, integrative analyses and applications of ML technology have a direct bearing on discoveries in IDDs. The application of ML to IDDs can potentially improve screening and early diagnosis, advance our understanding of the complexity of comorbidity, and accelerate the identification of biomarkers for clinical research and drug development. For more than five decades, the IDDRC network has supported a nexus of investigators at centers across the USA, all striving to understand the interplay between various factors underlying IDDs. In this review, we introduced fast-increasing multi-modal data types, highlighted example studies that employed ML technologies to illuminate factors and biological mechanisms underlying IDDs, as well as recent advances in ML technologies and their applications to IDDs and other neurological diseases. We discussed various molecular, clinical, and environmental data collection modes, including genetic, imaging, phenotypical, and behavioral data types, along with multiple repositories that store and share such data. Furthermore, we outlined some fundamental concepts of machine learning algorithms and presented our opinion on specific gaps that will need to be filled to accomplish, for example, reliable implementation of ML-based diagnosis technology in IDD clinics. We anticipate that this review will guide researchers to formulate AI and ML-based approaches to investigate IDDs and related conditions.

About the Lab: The Wang lab focuses on the development of interpretable machine learning approaches and bioinformatics tools for understanding the functional genomics, molecular and cellular mechanisms from genotype to phenotype.

Investigator: Daifeng Wang, PhD

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