Spring is a lovely time to be in Cambridge – winter is finally moving on, the spring bulbs are out and the trees are in blossom. Time for Linguamatics Spring Text Mining Conference, which again this year was blessed with lovely sunshine. And of course, the opportunity to hear the latest about Linguamatics products and some new and fascinating use cases from our customers.

In March 2019, attendees from across pharma and healthcare came to our Spring Text Mining Conference, for hands-on workshops, a Healthcare Hackathon, networking and great presentations. The presentations covered innovations in using Natural Language Processing (NLP) to get more value from a range of unstructured text, covering electronic medical records, regulatory documents and patient social media verbatims.

Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah is a nationally recognized cancer center that relies heavily on data for its research studies. Because a vast amount of critical patient information is stored in unstructured formats such as clinical notes and pathology reports, finding specific data is often challenging, to say the least—not to mention costly and time consuming.

For years, HCI had compiled information manually or with rudimentary Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools, but surely there was a better way?

After encountering Linguamatics at an informatics conference and learning more about its NLP tools and Linguamatics text mining solution, the HCI research informatics team realized that this is what it had been searching for. To test the system, HCI used Linguamatics NLP platform in a project on breast cancer; it found that data capture was much, much faster, and using NLP improved access to higher quality data.

Since that initial success, HCI has expanded its use of the platform and developed NLP tools for multiple other conditions. It can now provide investigators with the quality data they need when applying for grants, writing papers, or identifying cohorts for specific studies. HCI has also been able to share data and collaborate with other institutions, to advance research and enhance disease understanding, and ultimately achieve better patient outcomes.

Pondering DNA at The Eagle, Cambridge

I was recently privileged to have a pint of Guinness at the Eagle in Cambridge with some colleagues after work in our U.K. office. The Eagle is a historically significant pub in the area of DNA. Two things came to mind: 1) What is it with the number 51 and controversies? Area 51 and Photo 51 both bring up their own issues...and if we combine the two it would get really interesting...Alien DNA. Now that would be a good pub conversation! Especially here at the Eagle, where James Watson and Francis Crick theorized DNA’s helical structure. And 2) I wish Rosalind Franklin could have lived to see how things are evolving in precision medicine.