Ava Amini    

Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research

The goal of Microsoft Research is to advance the frontier of science and technology to impact the world. Today our researchers are exploring AI’s potential across a spectrum of disciplines — including how technology can improve human health and life.   

As a senior researcher at Microsoft Research, Ava Amini focuses on engineering new technologies for precision medicine by interfacing AI and biology. As part of her work, Amini is teaching AI to learn from biological data, too, analyzing measurements from deep within the human body to help us understand diseases like cancer and design personalized, more effective therapies.  

After learning computer science and programming in college, Amini saw the opportunity to think about biology through the lens of computer science — initially curious about how biological systems receive signals from the environment, process information and then perform very precise functions, just like a computer program does. As she progressed through her Ph.D. studies, she realized that AI offers an incredibly powerful toolkit to understand the language of biology and to engineer new solutions in human health and medicine – and has been pursuing this vision ever since.  

In addition to her work at Microsoft, Amini teaches a class on deep learning together with her husband at MIT. Over the past seven years, the couple have reached millions of learners from around the world. She is also co-founder and director of Momentum AI, an outreach program that teaches AI to under-resourced high school students. 

Amini received her Bachelor of Science in computer science and molecular biology from MIT, and her Ph.D. in biophysics at Harvard University.   

“You can think of biology as having its own language where different functions are like different grammatical and linguistic instances. We are working to develop new AI that can learn to read and write in this language, hopefully to design new solutions for human medicine. You can only start to dream of what the possibilities could be when you have a technology like this.”  

Top topics:   

  • AI’s potential in biological sciences and medicine  
  • Microsoft Research’s exploration into AI  
  • Women in AI, engineering and computer science  
  • Educating people on AI through classes and programs aimed at high-school and college students 

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