Health Life

AI tool searches thousands of scientific papers to guide researchers to coronavirus insights

COVIDScholar is a search engine with machine learning algorithms under the hood. Credit: Screen capture by The Conversation

The scientific community worldwide has mobilized with unprecedented speed to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, and the emerging research output is staggering. Every day, hundreds of scientific papers about COVID-19 come out, in both traditional journals and non-peer-reviewed preprints. There’s already far more than any human could possibly keep up with, and more research is constantly emerging.

And it’s not just new research. We estimate that there are as many as 500,000 papers relevant to COVID-19 that were published before the outbreak, including papers related to the outbreaks of SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012. Any one of these might contain the key information that leads to or a vaccine for COVID-19.

Traditional methods of searching through the research literature just don’t cut it anymore. This is why we and our colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are using the latest artificial intelligence techniques to build COVIDScholar, a dedicated to COVID-19. COVIDScholar includes tools that pick up subtle clues like similar drugs or research methodologies to recommend relevant research to scientists. AI can’t replace scientists, but it can help them gain new insights from more papers than they could read in a lifetime.

Why it matters

When it comes to finding effective treatments for COVID-19, time is of the essence. Scientists spend 23% of their time searching for and reading papers. Every second our can save them is more time to spend making discoveries in the lab and analyzing data.

AI can do more than just save scientists time. Our group’s previous work showed that AI can capture latent scientific knowledge from text, making connections that humans missed. There, we showed that AI

Health article

5 questions about intermittent fasting

Intermittent fasting has gotten a lot of attention recently—everyone from celebrities to social media influencers is talking about it.

The idea is that by limiting the time during the day when you can eat, you can lower your calorie intake and maybe lose weight. But does it actually work? Is it healthy? We answer these questions and more in a roundup from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

What is intermittent fasting?

Also called time-restricted feeding, intermittent fasting is when people restrict the time during the day when they can eat. For example, someone may eat only during a 12-hour time period, such as 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Can it help you lose weight?

Many people choose intermittent fasting as a way to lose weight. And some early NIH research supports this, says Charlotte Pratt, Ph.D., RD, of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. “In studies, people were able to demonstrate some changes in terms of body weight following a time-restricted eating plan,” Dr. Pratt explains. Research in animals has shown that calorie reduction can slow down aging and prevent some diseases. However, more research needs to be done in humans before the health benefits—and risks—are fully understood.

Does what you eat when fasting matter?

The timing of meals should not be the only factor in trying to lose weight or becoming healthier, Dr. Pratt notes. What and how much you eat are also important. Current U.S. dietary guidelines recommend eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Dr. Pratt says that most adults should also do at least 150 to 300 minutes (2 1/2 to 5 hours) a week of moderate-intensity, preferably aerobic activity that is spread throughout the week.

Is it safe?

It is not safe for everyone, especially those with health conditions like