WCM-Q Pre-medical Students Excel In National AI Competition
Two teams of pre-medical students from Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar (WCM-Q) have been highly commended after creating solutions to two problems highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the mentorship of Dr Majda Sebah, lecturer in chemistry in the Division of Premedical Education at WCM-Q, the students entered the National Artificial Intelligence Competition, organized by Hamad Bin Khalifa University and Qatar University. Each team entered in one of two categories; track 1, concept and design, and track 2, proof of concept and demonstrations. More than 1,000 teams entered the competition and the WCM-Q students were shortlisted in the final round.
For track 1, the three participating students in the team, Maryam Arabi, Lina Ahmed, and Yousef Al-Najjar examined how artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to improve healthcare during the pandemic. They realized that due to social distancing and the fear of infection, people were avoiding doctors’ surgeries, potentially putting themselves at risk if they did have a medical condition that needed treatment.
The three students came up with the idea of using drone technology that would allow doctors to examine patients remotely. The drone would be able to take vital signs and perform non-invasive procedures and an algorithm – written by the students – would then decide whether further medical intervention was needed.
Maryam Arabi explained how the idea came about: “We started by doing extensive research about the most developed technologies that are being used across the world as well as the emerging use of telemedicine. Once we found a gap in the market and understood the needs of doctors, we indulged in months of designing, revising, and evaluating our idea of MediDrone to produce a device that would bring clinical procedures, that are commonly adopted in hospitals, to the comfort of the patient’s home.
Maryam added: “I believe this competition was invaluable as it opened prospects in innovation, and this achievement would not have been possible without the constant guidance and support of Dr. Sebah.”
For track 2 – proof of concept and demonstrations – the student team made up of AlDana Al-Khalaf, Leena Aboidris, and Mohammed Al-Ansari, showed how AI could be used in an educational setting, expanding upon the parameters of Calvin, an online ‘lab assistant’ that allows students to perform practical experiments even when away from the laboratory by using a text editor program to write experimental commands for Calvin to interpret.
The technology for Calvin was created by Dr. Melissa Hines at Cornell University, and offers a virtual simulation of any given chemistry experiment. It incorporates equipment, instructional codes, and results allowing students to have a practical experience online. A student must direct Calvin each step of the way through the experiment, with Calvin providing data for students to critically analyze and arrive at a conclusion.
To further expand the system, Dr. Sebah had collaborated with Dr. Hines to write new codes for the software by setting up experimental parameters for a chemical kinetics experiment, which is the study of reaction rates and how they are impacted by factors such as pressure, temperature, and concentration. WCM-Q students set out to test and prove that Calvin with the necessary coding can potentially offer an effective online learning platform.
Team member Al-Dana Al-Khalaf said it had been a valuable learning experience.
She said: “This competition was quite an eye-opening experience. My team and I became aware of the extensive process that an academic research paper goes through. I believe that this competition equipped us with the necessary tools required for academic writing that I will incorporate in my future research papers. We are incredibly grateful to have had this early exposure in our first year in the premedical program. In addition, we have learned a lot about external collaborations as we were able to connect with Dr. Hines. Through this I learned about the importance of collaborations which can lead to scientific growth; this is something I will continue to do as a future physician.”
Dr. Sebah, who worked closely with both teams offering support and guidance said: “Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar strongly encourages all of our students to get involved in research and understand the concept of translating laboratory findings into practical healthcare solutions. I thank HBKU and Qatar University for organizing this competition and providing a great platform for AI innovations.
“This competition has allowed the students to find possible solutions for the current challenges faced due to COVID-19 pandemic. Their contributions to the advancement of science and technology in the area of emerging AI technologies in Qatar will undoubtedly have a great impact in the near future. This was an incredibly tasking competition, it consisted of several phases from idea submission, solution design, project testing and demos, and finally shortlisting of projects. For our students to get shortlisted for the final round is an incredible achievement. The overall experience had been interesting for all the students involved and had given them an insight into research and the practical challenges of theoretical design. The students worked exceptionally hard to examine how their solutions would work in the real world. They showed real innovation in their working and I offer my heartfelt congratulations.”
Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar
Weill Cornell Medicine - Qatar is a partnership between Cornell University and Qatar Foundation. It offers a comprehensive six-year medical program leading to the Cornell University M.D. degree with teaching by Cornell and Weill Cornell faculty and by physicians at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), Aspetar Orthopedic and Sports Medicine Hospital, the Primary Health Care Corporation, the Feto Maternal Center, and Sidra Medicine, who hold Weill Cornell appointments. Through its biomedical research program, WCM-Q is building a sustainable research community in Qatar while advancing basic science and clinical research. Through its medical college, WCM-Q seeks to provide the finest education possible for medical students, to improve health care both now and for future generations, and to provide high quality health care to the Qatari population.