Immersive lab seeks to bridge translational AI across a range of fields to drive discovery 

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Vanderbilt University has created a transformational lab focused on leveraging immersive translational AI to drive discovery across disciplines ranging from medicine and materials science to the humanities, social science and education.  

The new Vanderbilt Lab for Immersive AI Translation (VALIANT) will act as a dynamic regional Translational AI hub, as well as serve as a center of gravity for strategic national partnerships and engagement in AI policy. Researchers in computer science, electrical and computer engineering, and biomedical engineering are engaged with as many as 350 interdisciplinary co-authors throughout Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Medical Center.  

Discovery Vanderbilt Logo“By launching VALIANT as a Discovery Vanderbilt center, we are underscoring our profound commitment to utilizing transformative technologies for innovation across diverse fields,” said C. Cybele Raver, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. “By serving as a hub for translational AI and interdisciplinary collaboration, VALIANT embodies our dedication to pushing the boundaries of knowledge and addressing today’s complex challenges.”

Discovery Vanderbilt is an initiative led by the Office of the Provost and is one of three pathways in the university’s Dare to Grow campaign to support and extend the resources underpinning Vanderbilt’s most innovative research and education.  

Previously announced centers include the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator, the Vanderbilt Center for Research on Inequality and Health and, most recently, the Vanderbilt Center for Sustainability, Energy and Climate. 

Bennett Landman

VALIANT will be led by Bennett Landman, a preeminent scholar who holds the Stevenson Chair of Electrical and Computer Engineering and has joint appointments in computer science, biomedical engineering, radiology and radiological sciences, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, biomedical informatics, and neurology. Landman also serves as chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. 

“Professor Landman’s vision for VALIANT is nothing short of inspirational,” said Krish Roy, Bruce and Bridgitt Dean of Engineering and University Distinguished Professor. “He has a deep understanding of AI’s potential, coupled with a passion to explore the many innovative ways to use the technology to improve the lives of everyone in our local communities and throughout the region.” 

Tapping into Vanderbilt’s broad faculty expertise, VALIANT seeks to connect research efforts in translational AI to drive discovery in three primary areas: 

  • Medicine 
  • Materials 
  • Humanities, social science and education 

The Lab’s AI Scholars and AI Faculty Fellows programs for doctoral students and faculty researchers, respectively, will provide excellent growth opportunities for its members. VALIANT will also leverage an existing network of international research collaborators to engage industry, visiting scholars and student trainees from around the world. Additionally, VALIANT plans numerous bridge programs and institutional partnerships to foster regional collaborations throughout Middle Tennessee.  

“AI is one of the most important—if not the most important—technological advances to happen in my lifetime,” Landman said. “I would compare this to the dawn of the electrical age. Our mission at VALIANT is to fully understand and harness the power of this revolutionary technology to address the grand societal challenges of our time.” 

Landman adds that intensive AI research continues throughout many areas of Vanderbilt and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He said VALIANT intends to be a vital partner and resource for institutional efforts, as well as those happening outside of the university. “Through VALIANT, we have a golden opportunity to solidify Vanderbilt’s impact in the broad arena of AI technology,” Landman said. 

Bradley Malin, Accenture Professor and vice chair for research affairs in the Department of Biomedical Informatics, agrees that VALIANT will be a potent force to accelerate AI efforts in multiple areas.  

“I’m proud to see Vanderbilt taking a multidimensional approach to AI, supporting everything from lifesaving clinical research to the widespread adoption of AI technology to improve lives in our local communities,” said Malin, who co-directs VUMC’s ADVANCE Center, focused on the intersection of health care and biomedical informatics. “It’s simply a matter of time when AI will lead to novel discoveries in the biomedical domain—and countless other areas.” 

In addition to Landman, VALIANT is being led by a steering committee of:  

  • Brett Byram, Hoy Family Faculty Fellow and associate professor of biomedical engineering 
  • Catie Chang, Sally and Dave Hopkins Faculty Fellow, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, assistant professor of computer science and assistant professor of biomedical engineering 
  • Yuankai Huo, assistant professor of computer science, assistant professor of computer engineering, assistant professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology 
  • Daniel Moyer, assistant professor of computer science 
  • Maizie (Xin) Zhou, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, assistant professor of computer science