Meet Our Scientists
Dr. Richard Martin is a research scientist and technical lead at IBM Watson Health. For three years, Richard has been innovating and pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in Life Sciences. Dr. Martin’s research interest generally concerns how techniques from computer and information science can work together, and alongside human experts, to help accelerate scientific discovery. His vision is to build an AI research assistant that can augment the capabilities of human experts, uncovering patterns that emerge from enormous volumes of disparate data, that humans alone cannot hope to parse, let alone identify meaningful signals from.
Richard is the natural language processing team leader responsible for teaching the Watson system how to read and understand scientific literature and the language of drug discovery, by extracting and cross-referencing information about genes, drugs and diseases, and how they interact, across a wide variety of sources. Richard has invented and built new types of predictive analytics for machine reasoning upon this massive data, and Richard’s contributions to Watson’s abilities have led to impactful discoveries, such as the recent identification of five never-before-linked proteins that are associated with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). These proteins are now potential avenues for development of novel treatments, and after further testing and validation, the findings were recently published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica.
Richard has a deep personal motivation for innovating in healthcare, rooted in his father’s kidney cancer and ankylosing spondylitis diagnoses, neither of which are presently curable. The analytics that Richard has developed enable, for the first time, the identification of common connections between diseases such as these, and the genes and drugs that are known or likely to be associated with them, providing the hope of finding new paths to discovering a cure. When researchers can more quickly uncover novel patterns and connections they can accelerate discovery, which can lead to effective pharmaceuticals going to market and reaching patients sooner.