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BRILLIANT: A flagship for the benefits of AI

Dr. Audrey Durand was interviewed about her role as one of BRILLIANT’s principal investigators. We find out about the pitfalls and promises of artificial intelligence.

Audrey Durand, PhD

Principal Investigator | BRILLIANT

BRILLIANT can not only become useful and beneficial for patients but serve as a flagship for benefits of artificial intelligence.

Question: Please tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your current role, and your research interests?

Answer: I am an Assistant Professor at Laval University, in Quebec City. I have a joint affiliation between the Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering and the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.  I am also affiliated with Mila — Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute (Montreal, Canada) through a Canada CIFAR AI Chair. I conduct research in machine learning, more specifically, reinforcement learning applied to applications linked to healthcare. These applications can be distant from the patient, more research oriented. I collaborate with researchers in neuroscience exploring optimization of high-resolution microscopes to image the brain. We’re really looking at neurons here. We are far from direct patient contact, but we are interested in understanding the human brain to potentially prevent, treat or eventually cure diseases in conditions such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.

Question: Please describe BRILLIANT for us. What is BRILLIANT? How would you define the BRILLIANT project?

Answer: The goal of BRILLIANT is to support patients with their rehabilitation following an acquired brain injury. I see the patient portal serving as a central hub. It will bring together patients and healthcare providers. The portal will enable providers to follow their patients, give them tools to help them understand their patients progress and recovery. From the patient perspective, the portal will provide a tighter link to healthcare providers and to follow their own progress, and hopefully become more engaged in their own recovery and rehabilitation.

Question: What is your current role in BRILLIANT and how does your research project(s) tie into the broader scope of BRILLIANT?

Answer: I see myself with two roles within BRILLIANT. On the one hand, supporting any kind of application within BRILLIANT that would incorporate some sort of machine learning. I am also working on a platform trial, which aligns with my own research, which includes bandits and systems personalized to its users.

Question: How can a research project like BRILLIANT help the community at large?

Answer: When someone acquires a brain injury, it not only affects them, it affects their friends, their family and it impacts how they can interact with their environment. If we want to help patients to re-enter and participate in the community, we can not only interact with them we have to collaborate with the community. BRILLIANT initially targets people with an acquired brain injury, but has important repercussions to the community at large.

Question: What is one take-away message for our audience about BRILLIANT?

Answer: BRILLIANT is an initiative that may have an impact on the community at large, not only on the patients that are targeted by the initiative. By incorporating the strengths that artificial intelligence can bring, BRILLIANT can not only become useful and beneficial for patients but serve as a flagship for the benefits of artificial intelligence. We hear a lot about AI for recommending movies, advertisements, and Facebook posts. We hear a lot of bad things about AI. Having a strong initiative like BRILLIANT, incorporating AI, can highlight the good things that AI can do.

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