van der Schaar Lab

Prof. Mihaela van der Schaar

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About Mihaela

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. In addition to leading the van der Schaar Lab, Mihaela is founder and director of the Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine (CCAIM).

Mihaela was elected IEEE Fellow in 2009. She 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.

Mihaela is personally credited as inventor on 35 USA patents (the majority of which are listed here), many of which are still frequently cited and adopted in standards. She has made over 45 contributions to international standards for which she received 3 ISO Awards.

Publications and research impact

Mihaela has published more than 600 papers, including 280 journal articles and over 300 conference papers. She has also authored several books and book chapters.

In terms of recent academic output in top machine learning venues, Mihaela ranked among the 10 researchers with the most accepted papers at ICML 2020 (and was the only female researcher on the list); she was only one of two women among the 40 researchers with the most accepted papers at NeurIPS 2019. In 2019, Mihaela was identified by National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts as the most-cited female AI researcher in the U.K. She was also elected a 2019 “Star in Computer Networking and Communications” by N²Women.

While her current research is firmly centered around machine learning for healthcare, Mihaela’s previous work is exceptionally diverse and impactful, spanning a wide range of fields including multimedia compression, processing and transmission; multi-user wireless networking; applications of game-theoretic ideas in engineering contexts; and multi-agent learning in engineering systems.

Mihaela’s ground-breaking work on machine learning for healthcare includes the development of improved methods for forecasting individual risks and for identifying covariates that are most important for forecasting risk. Her work has identified better treatment options for patients with heart failure, cystic fibrosis, breast cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Mihaela has also developed a state-of-the-art predictive model (already implemented in a number of hospitals) to manage hospitalised patients at risk of sudden deterioration, in addition to a framework (currently undergoing trials in the UK, in collaboration with NHS Digital and Public Health England) for more efficient allocation of limited resources across hospitals during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Mihaela has also contributed to a number of discussions regarding policies and guidelines at the highest levels. As part of the 2019 NHS Topol Review, she co-chaired the Expert Advisory Panel on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics. Additionally, Mihaela contributed a chapter to the U.K.’s 2018 Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer, discussing how machine learning can transform medicine and healthcare.

While Mihaela’s research focus is now firmly on machine learning, AI, and operations research for healthcare and medicine, her previous research achieved substantial impact in the areas of multimedia communications, compression and processing, and real-time stream mining.

In her early career, while working at Philips (and simultaneously completing her Ph.D.), Mihaela developed both the theoretical foundations and the first practical algorithm for streaming video. Her contributions remain highly visible, thanks to their inclusion in commercial products (including an award-winning Philips webcam) and the 35 U.S. patents that she has been granted. Between 1999 and 2003, she was Philips’ representative to the International Standards Organization (ISO), leading several of the working groups that developed and wrote the MPEG-4 standards for streaming video, to which she contributed more than 40 papers.

The majority of Mihaela’s 35 patents can be found on the U.S. PTO’s website.

Mihaela has developed new methods for detecting, characterising, and forecasting complex events (including road traffic collisions, popularity of videos on social networks, and energy supply and demand in smart-grids, among others) based on a novel machine learning and real-time stream mining paradigm. These methods have been implemented as part of the IBM InfoSpheres Platform for a Smarter Planet.

Professional contributions, leadership, and mentorship

Mihaela served as Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions on Multimedia between 2011 and 2013, and has held Guest Editor, Associate Editor, and Senior Editorial Board Member roles for numerous other journals (including IEEE Journal on Selected Topics in Signal Processing). As part of the 2018 NHS Topol Review, she co-chaired the Expert Advisory Panel on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics.

Mihaela was Founder and Director of the UCLA Center for Engineering Economics, Learning, and Networks (2011-2016). She is the Founder and Director of the Cambridge Centre for AI in Medicine (2020) and Co-Director of the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS) (2019).

Mihaela is a leader and mentor in both science and in science communication. Her Ph.D. students and postdocs have gone on to excellent academic positions internationally (across 4 continents!) and are becoming recognised as leaders in their own right.

Mihaela has also organised numerous outreach activities, several of which are dedicated to empowering women in engineering and computer science. She recently launched Inspiration Exchange, an online series of engagement sessions aiming to share ideas with young researchers in machine learning for healthcare. To build partnerships with clinicians, she created Revolutionizing Healthcare, a regular online engagement series which now has roughly 400 clinicians from around the world registered to participate.

Public speaking and engagement (since 2020)

Mihaela has given plenary and keynote talks at more than thirty international conferences (including, most recently, ICLR 2020 and ICME 2020), tutorials at more than thirty venues (including, most recently, ICML 2021), and summer schools (including at MLSS 2020). She has also delivered invited lectures all over the world (including the Oon International Award Lecture at the University of Cambridge in 2018, the Very Reverend Derek Hole Lecture in 2019 at the University of Leicester and the Alan Tyler Lecture in 2019 at the University of Oxford, as well as Distinguished Seminars at MIT in 2019 and 2020).

A list of major speaking engagements (divided into conferences, workshops/summer schools, and guest lectures) can be found below.

Prizes, awards, and elected positions

Mihaela has received numerous awards and honours for her work. While at Philips, she was awarded three ISO awards for her work leading several MPEG Working Groups, and also received the Philips “Make a Difference” Award. In the course of a single academic year, she received an NSF CAREER award, an Okawa Foundation Award, and an IBM Watson Exploratory Stream Analytics Innovation Award as well as three IBM Faculty Awards.

Mihaela was elected an IEEE Fellow in 2009 and a Distinguished Lecturer for IEEE for 2011-2012, despite being substantially younger than others to have received those honours. She won an IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Darlington Award in 2011, and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award in 2016 (which she declined, in favour of the endowed Man Chair at Oxford).

Mihaela was awarded the Oon Prize on Preventative Medicine from the University of Cambridge in 2018. In 2019 she was named a Star in Computer Networking and Communications by N2Women (a community of researchers in the fields of networking and communications), and was identified by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) as the most-cited female AI researcher in the UK.

List of key prizes, awards, and elected positions

2020 Received Journal of the American College of Radiology “Best of 2020” award for article on machine learning for mammography
2019 Identified by the National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts (NESTA) as the most-cited female AI researcher in the U.K.
2019 Named “Star in Computer Networking and Communications” by N2Women
2018 Received Oon Award for Preventative Medicine (University of Cambridge)
2018 Received IJCAI International Workshop on Biomedical informatics with Optimization and Machine learning (BOOM) Best Paper Award
2016 Accepted MAN Professorship (statutory professorship) at Oxford University
2016 Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (declined in favour of Oxford professorship)
2014 – 2016 Senior editorial board member of IEEE Journal on Emerging and Selected Topics in Circuits and Systems (JETCAS)
2011 – 2013 Editor-in-Chief of IEEE Transactions On Multimedia
2011 – 2012 Senior editorial board member of IEEE Journal on Selected Topics on Signal Processing
2011 – 2012 Distinguished Speaker for IEEE Communications Society
2011 Elected Chancellor’s Professor at University of California Los Angeles (endowed position)
2011 IEEE Circuits and Systems Society Darlington Award
2009 Elected IEEE Fellow
2008 Exploratory Stream Analytics Innovation Award from IBM Research Watson
2006 Elected to Image and Multidimensional Signal Processing Technical Committee, IEEE Signal Processing Society
2006 IEEE Transactions on Circuits and Systems for Video Technology Best Paper Award
2006 Okawa Foundation Award
2005 2007 2008 IBM Faculty Awards (x3)
2005 ISO Award for technical contributions to the MPEG-21 Multimedia framework
2004 National Science Foundation CAREER Award
2003 2004 ISO Awards (x2) for technical contributions to the MPEG-4 Visual standard
2002 Philips “Make a Difference” Award
2002 Elected to Multimedia Signal Processing Technical Committee, IEEE Signal Processing Society
1996 Awarded one of the first five European Union TEMPUS scholarships

Funding and clinical partnerships

The groundbreaking research conducted by Mihaela and our lab is made possible thanks to strong support from a range of funding partners across the public and private sectors.

We are also grateful for the support and guidance of extensive network of clinical colleagues, who have expertly framed real-world problems for us to solve and helped us understand the complexities of healthcare systems.

Mihaela’s career

1992 – 2001

Eindhoven University of Technology

BSc. and MSc. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)
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Ph.D. (Electrical and Computer Engineering)

Mihaela received one of the first five European Union TEMPUS scholarships, enabling her to continue her education at the Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, where she received a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in 1996, and a Ph.D. in 2001, all in Electrical and Computer Engineering.

1992 – 2001
1996 – 2003

Philips Research

Research scientist
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Senior Research Staff, Wireless Communication and Networking Department

Aged 24, Mihaela started her independent research career with Philips Research, first in the Netherlands (1996-1998, as Research Scientist) and then in the U.S. (1998-2003, as Senior Research Scientist and Project Leader).

1996 – 2003
2003 – 2005

UC Davis

Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Mihaela then embarked on her career as an academic, starting as Assistant Professor at the University of California, Davis in 2003 and subsequently taking an equivalent role at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2005.

2003 – 2005
2005 – present

UCLA

Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering Department
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Associate Professor, Electrical Engineering Department
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Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
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Chancellor’s Professor

At UCLA, Mihaela advanced rapidly from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor (2007), Professor (2010), and Chancellor’s Professor (2011) in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

(The University of California describes Chancellor’s Professor as a distinguished title “designed for persons who have earned the title of Full Professor and who have demonstrated unusual academic merit and whose continued promise for scholarly achievement is unusually high.” Only 3% of all Full Professors in the University of California system hold this title.)

2005 – present
2016 – 2018

University of Oxford

MAN Professor, Department of Engineering Sciences

Mihaela was Man Professor in the Department of Engineering Sciences at the University of Oxford between 2016 and 2018.

2016 – 2018
2016 – present

The Alan Turing Institute

Fellow

Mihaela has been a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute since 2016.

2016 – present
2018 – present

University of Cambridge

John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Medicine

Since October 2018, Mihaela has been John Humphrey Plummer Professor of Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence and Medicine in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, the Department of Engineering, and the Department of Public Health at the University of Cambridge.

2018 – present