van der Schaar Lab

Paper on AI and ML in the response to COVID-19 published in Machine Learning

A paper authored by Mihaela van der Schaar, Ahmed Alaa, and Dan Jarrett, alongside Prof. Stefan Scholtes from Cambridge Judge Business School and a number of the van der Schaar Lab’s clinical collaborators, has been published in Machine Learning (editor-in-chief: Hendrik Blockeel).

The paper, entitled “How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Can Help Healthcare Systems Respond to COVID-19,” was published online on December 9.

The authors highlight the potential role to be played by machine learning and AI to serve as essential tools in support of in a rigorous clinical and societal response to the ongoing global pandemic (as well as future pandemics), and proposes a framework by which this could be achieved.

How Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Can Help Healthcare Systems Respond to COVID-19

Mihaela van der Schaar, Ahmed Alaa, Andres Floto, Alexander Gimson,
Stefan Scholtes, Angela Wood, Eoin McKinney, Dan Jarrett, Pietro Lio, Ari Ercole


The COVID-19 global pandemic is a threat not only to the health of millions of individuals, but also to the stability of infrastructure and economies around the world.

The disease will inevitably place an overwhelming burden on healthcare systems that cannot be effectively dealt with by existing facilities or responses based on conventional approaches.

We believe that a rigorous clinical and societal response can only be mounted by using intelligence derived from a variety of data sources to better utilize scarce healthcare resources, provide personalized patient management plans, inform policy, and expedite clinical trials.

In this paper, we introduce five of the most important challenges in responding to COVID-19 and show how each of them can be addressed by recent developments in machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). We argue that the integration of these techniques into local, national, and international healthcare systems will save lives, and propose specific methods by which implementation can happen swiftly and efficiently.

We offer to extend these resources and knowledge to assist policymakers seeking to implement these techniques.

For a full list of the van der Schaar Lab’s publications, click here.

To find out more about the van der Schaar Lab’s work related to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our dedicated page here.

Ahmed Alaa

Ahmed Alaa

Ahmed M. Alaa is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the ECE Department, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and an affiliated Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge.

His primary research focus has been on causal inference, automated machine learning, uncertainty quantification and time-series analysis.

He has published papers in several leading machine learning conferences including NeurIPS, ICML, ICLR and AISTATS.

Dan Jarrett

Dan Jarrett

Dan is a second-year Ph.D. student in the machine learning and artificial intelligence research group at the department of mathematics, advised by Professor van der Schaar.

He graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in economics, and from Oxford with an MSc. in computer science.

He has professional experience in finance, consulting, and technology spaces, and research interests include representation learning and decision-making over time.

Mihaela van der Schaar

Mihaela van der Schaar

Mihaela van der Schaar is the John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Medicine at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute in London, and a Chancellor’s Professor at UCLA.

Mihaela has received numerous awards, including the Oon Prize on Preventative Medicine from the University of Cambridge (2018), a National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2004), 3 IBM Faculty Awards, the IBM Exploratory Stream Analytics Innovation Award, the Philips Make a Difference Award and several best paper awards, including the IEEE Darlington Award.

In 2019, she was identified by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts as the most-cited female AI researcher in the UK. She was also elected as a 2019 “Star in Computer Networking and Communications” by N²Women. Her research expertise span signal and image processing, communication networks, network science, multimedia, game theory, distributed systems, machine learning and AI.

Mihaela’s research focus is on machine learning, AI and operations research for healthcare and medicine.

Nick Maxfield

Nick Maxfield

Nick oversees the van der Schaar Lab’s communications, including media relations, content creation, and maintenance of the lab’s online presence.

Nick studied Japanese (BA Hons.) at the University of Oxford, graduating in 2012. Nick previously worked in HQ communications roles at Toyota (2013-2016) and Nissan (2016-2020).

Given his humanities/languages background and experience in communications, Nick is well-positioned to highlight and explain the real-world impact of research that can often be quite esoteric. Thankfully, he is comfortable asking almost endless questions in order to understand a topic.