Cognitive Computing: Software That Mines Research Papers

This is amazing. An article from  MIT Technology Review:

Software that read tens of thousands of research papers and then predicted new discoveries about the workings of a protein that’s key to cancer could herald a faster approach to developing new drugs.

The software, developed in a collaboration between IBM and Baylor College of Medicine, was set loose on more than 60,000 research papers that focused on p53, a protein involved in cell growth, which is implicated in most cancers. By parsing sentences in the documents, the software could build an understanding of what is known about enzymes called kinases that act on p53 and regulate its behavior; these enzymes are common targets for cancer treatments. It then generated a list of other proteins mentioned in the literature that were probably undiscovered kinases, based on what it knew about those already identified. Most of its predictions tested so far have turned out to be correct.


Just think about what is involved in doing this:

  1. Text-analysis
  2. Mining  publications
  3. Mining patents
  4. Searching domain specific (in this case molecular) databases

And think about the impact.

software like this could change the way scientists conduct and assess new research findings. Scientists currently rely in part on the reputation of the people, institutions, and journals involved, and the number of times a paper is cited by others.


This is higher order computing. It goes beyond cognitive computing  which is simulating certain types of brain like operations.