Bioz: Applying artificial intelligence to accelerate scientific research

About Bioz

Bioz is the world’s most comprehensive AI search engine for scientific experimentation. The patent-pending cloud platform combines the work of scientists with advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, and artificial intelligence technologies to help life scientists in academia and biopharma make faster and smarter decisions to accelerate research and drug discovery.

Industries: Healthcare
Location: United States

Bioz, the world’s most comprehensive AI search engine for scientific experimentation is built on Google Cloud solutions and helps researchers around the world identify the best tools for their experiments.

Google Cloud Results

  • Provides the world’s most comprehensive AI search engine for scientific experimentation
  • Enables researchers to find detailed information on 300 million life science products including reagents and lab equipment
  • Accelerates the work of researchers in academia and R&D scientists performing drug discovery
  • Reduces trial and error in product selection, so experiments can be conducted faster and at a lower cost

27 million articles reviewed, 300 million products given confidence scores

From advanced simulation to complex data analysis, computers have transformed scientific experiments. But the enormous processing power available to labs is rarely used to help prepare for many experiments. Ph.D. researcher into cancer, Dr. Karin Lachmi, Co-founder and Chief Science Officer of Bioz, realized the world of life sciences was missing what many other fields had easy access to.

“Today, we have search engines and recommendation engines for almost everything. Whether it’s a vacation, restaurant reservations, or just a pair of shoes, there’s a lot of data that helps us to choose,” Dr. Lachmi says. “That was definitely not the case in life sciences, where I felt like I was in the Dark Ages in terms of finding information that could help me decide what products or techniques to use for my next experiment.”

Updating an outdated approach

Instead of having that data at her fingertips, Dr. Lachmi, like thousands of researchers before her, had to scour papers and periodicals line-by-line to confirm which reagents, assays, or lab techniques had been used successfully in previous experiments. This required vast amounts of time being spent to read scientific articles to just begin planning a new experiment.

Dr. Lachmi recognized there was an opportunity to transform this outdated approach. Instead of requiring researchers to review countless articles from online repositories, she proposed the creation of a search engine for scientific experiments: one that harnesses artificial intelligence to help researchers quickly identify the relevant products that had been mentioned in articles, all from a vast body of evidence of 27 million articles.

“The reason we could create such a big product with a small team is because it was relatively easy for us to integrate pieces and libraries from App Engine. That is a testament to how well the platform was designed by Google.”

Ehud Pardo, CTO, Bioz

Powered by Google Cloud

Today, as the most comprehensive AI search engine for scientific experimentation, Bioz offers researchers the ability to access data from over 27 million scientific articles covering 300 million products. Every step of the way, it’s powered by Google Cloud solutions.

When researchers use Bioz, which they can do for free, they can rapidly access relevant information from those articles to uncover key details about the processes used and results cited. How concentrated was an antibody in that assay? At what temperature did the described reaction take place? They are comparing millions of articles and experiments conducted worldwide to shape and refine their own plans.

From unstructured to structured data

Behind the scenes, the Bioz team uses Google Cloud Platform solutions to transform dense scientific articles, full of unstructured data, into searchable structured knowledge and recommendations. The Bioz team has pre-identified a series of key terms, ranging from product names to common scientific techniques to particular protocol conditions, that researchers would potentially seek.

PDF files of articles direct from journals are packaged into batches and then analyzed for these terms, using Cloud Natural Language. The analytic power comes from instances of Compute Engine created on the fly. The articles and an individual log of each are then saved in Cloud Storage.

The core of the Bioz solution runs on App Engine. Bioz has developed sophisticated AI software that reads the results of the Natural Language Processing (NLP) and turns them into searchable knowledge and recommendations in Cloud Bigtable. The website frontend, used by researchers, is an advanced read-only interface that presents the relevant information from Cloud Bigtable in an easy-to-use format. Ehud Pardo, chief technology officer at Bioz, explains that the search engine is “actually our own search engine technology, but it uses components from the App Engine search library.”

Approximately 5,000 newly published articles are added to the Cloud Bigtable database every day, all tagged for relevant search terms. Crucially, as well as providing the search information, the Bioz solution pulls out of articles additional information that may be useful to researchers, such as the author’s name, location, date of the article, the name of the journal where it was published, and much more.

“One of the best parts of our work with Google has been the personal attention we get from support. There's somebody who knows us, who knows our product, and who knows our needs.”

Ehud Pardo, CTO, Bioz

Solid foundation for growth

The Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology and the Bioz Stars scoring system with the concept of ZERO BIAS are what Dr. Lachmi calls Bioz’s secret sauce, as they are the key to making the Bioz solution so helpful for researchers. They are developed and maintained in-house, but both Dr. Lachimi and Ehud are quick to recognize the pivotal role Google has played in Bioz’s growth.

“Our core product is huge, but it was designed by just two core engineers,” Ehud recalls. “The reason we could create such a big product with a small team is because it was relatively easy for us to integrate pieces and libraries from App Engine. That is a testament to how well the platform was designed by Google. In fact, the libraries that were included when App Engine first came out were a key reason for our standardizing on Google Cloud Platform.”

Controlling costs, scaling automatically

It’s been crucial for Bioz that Google Cloud solutions can scale up as the load increases, with more articles added and more searches performed. That means that there is no delay to scientists when there are peaks in demand. Additional server or virtual machine capacity is instantly available on an ad hoc basis, which avoids the need for costly upfront investment in either database licenses or server hardware.

This is crucial for Bioz, which, even though it now offers 27 million articles for search, runs a lean operation. Dr. Lachmi is determined that the Bioz search engine should remain free for researchers to use, so the Google cost model, built on usage, is an important way of keeping expenditures down. Similarly, the fact that Google solutions are fully managed also reduces the burden on Bioz. There is no need to employ dedicated database administrators, for instance, despite the vast amount of data stored in Cloud Bigtable.

“For comparison, that’s six months of lab work including testing and validating products to identify the ones that work, the principal investigator’s time, the researcher’s time, not to mention the cost of reagents and salaries, and more, compared to one simple search taking two seconds on Bioz.com. That is six months saved in a mere two-seconds!”

Karin Lachmi, Co-founder and Chief Science Officer, Bioz

Benefiting from personal support

While other cloud providers might be able to match that kind of managed service on paper, in Bioz’s experience, Google stands out. “One of the best parts of our work with Google has been the personal attention that we get from support,” Ehud confirms. “There's somebody who knows us, who knows our product, and who knows our needs. Even if we need more capacity during the process of analyzing articles, Google support can increase indexes or memory of buffers. They've been fantastic.”

As an alumni of the highly-acclaimed Stanford-StartX accelerator, Bioz also directly benefited from the Google Cloud for Startups program, which offered targeted training and Cloud credits to help build the business. For Dr. Lachmi, this was a real advantage. “As a startup, we always need to be very focused with our expenses, so we appreciated the credits.”

A shared ethos

Dr. Lachmi has spotted a degree of similarity between the ethos of her company and Google. “Many other companies in our industry and even some investors suggested that we should charge researchers to use Bioz. We have insisted that we will never charge researchers, and I think it's in line with the way Google provides free access to Google Search, Gmail, and to many of their other tools.”

As for the value of the free access to Bioz, Dr. Lachmi offers the story of a professor at Stanford University who was unfamiliar with Bioz. He performed a simple search on Bioz.com for information about an antibody that he had recently validated through six months of lab testing.

“When he searched for that same antibody on Bioz.com, in just a few seconds, the Bioz platform provided him with results that matched his findings,” adds Dr. Lachmi. “For comparison, that’s six months of lab work, including testing and validating products to identify the ones that work, the principal investigator’s time, the researcher’s time, not to mention the cost of reagents and salaries, and more, compared to one simple search taking two seconds on Bioz.com. That is six months saved in a mere 2-seconds!” Most importantly, that means the real discovery research, as opposed to validation, can begin sooner.

About Bioz

Bioz is the world’s most comprehensive AI search engine for scientific experimentation. The patent-pending cloud platform combines the work of scientists with advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), machine learning, and artificial intelligence technologies to help life scientists in academia and biopharma make faster and smarter decisions to accelerate research and drug discovery.

Industries: Healthcare
Location: United States
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