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July, 2013:

Helping people find clinical trials for which they are eligible

We are collaborating in the acquisition of knowledge concerning clinical trials.  Initially, we are looking at trials related to pancreatic cancer, such as A Study Using 18F-FAZA and PET Scans to Study Hypoxia in Pancreatic Cancer.

At, each trial is rendered as HTML for browsing from underlying XML files which can be downloaded.  Although we can parse the underlying XML into content for knowledge acquisition automatically, this article looks at acquiring the knowledge about an individual trial using the web presentation.  In particular, we look at the logical, semantic, and linguistic issues of understanding eligibility criteria. (more…)

US News & World Report: “The Education-Technology Revolution Is Coming”

This US News & World Report opinion is on the right track about the macro trend towards increasingly technology-enabled education:

But it also sounds like what I heard during the dot-com boom of the 1990s when a lot of companies—including Blackboard—began using technology to “disrupt” the education status quo. Since then we’ve made some important progress, but in many ways the classroom still looks the same as it did 100 years ago. So what’s different this time? Is all the talk just hype? Or are we really starting to see the beginnings of major change? I believe we are.

The comments about active learning are particularly on-target.  Delivering a textbook electronically or a course on-line is hardly the point. For example, textbooks and courses that understand their subject matter well enough to ask appropriate questions and that can explain the answers, assess the learner’s comprehension, guide them through the subject matter and accommodate their learning style dynamically are where the action will be soon enough.  This is not at all far-fetched or years off.  Look at Watson and some of these links to see how imminent such educational technology could be!

  1. Award-winning video of Inquire: An Intelligent Textbook
  2. Presentation  of Vulcan’s Digital Aristotle (PDF slides, streaming recording)
  3. article on Vulcan’s Digital Aristotle, Aura, Inquire, and Campbell’s Biology (PDF)

We’ve been working for several years on applications of artificial intelligence in education, as in Project Sherlock and this presentation. Please get in touch if you’re interested in advancing education along such lines.

Knowledge acquisition using lexical and semantic ontology

In developing a compliance application based on the institutional review board policies of John Hopkins’ Dept. of Medicine, we have to clarify the following sentence:

  • Projects involving drugs or medical devices other than the use of an approved drug or medical device in the course of medical practice and projects whose data will be submitted to or held for inspection by the FDA will not be exempt from JHM IRB review UNLESS that use falls within the Emergency Use provisions of 21 CFR 56.102 (d).

As you can see, there are a number of compound words and acronyms, as well as references to the Code of Federal Regulations that need to be defined or recognized to understand this sentence.  (more…)

Governance, compliance, and contract management

Marketing at Coherent Knowledge suggests this Dilbert for those with compliance challenges!