Causal representation learning for robust healthcare predictions

   School of Engineering

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  Prof Sotirios Tsaftaris, Dr Alison O'Neil  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

As part of the Canon Medical and RAEng funded project on Healthcare AI [1], we are looking to expand the team with a highly motivated PhD student working on disentangled representations, computer vision, and medical image analysis to start as soon as possible. 

We frequently hear that AI will aid the work of experts. To succeed in this an AI must make accurate and confident predictions, generalizing to new and unseen data. Yet we still train AI models via supervision (i.e. by providing several examples) and require diverse data to do so. There must be a better AI that can understand concepts in the data even without explicit supervision, and behave well even on unseen data. The limits of supervision are particularly profound when we consider a more multimodal view to sensory input using both visual and text input, or consider asking an AI to make predictions about the future. Ultimately our goal is to develop decision support systems that can predict and assess the influence of healthcare treatments and interventions. To achieve this, this AI must be able to distinguish correlation from causation and to jointly learn the concepts and any causal relationships between them and the desired output task or tasks.  

Thus, topics of interest include:

-representation learning (to learn concepts);

-causality (to learn relationships between concepts);

-generative models (to constrain the representations within a distribution space); and

-digital twinning of data generation and acquisition processes (to augment what we can describe physically and incorporate within the causal structure).

The candidate will:

- join VIOS [3] a dynamic, international team of several academics, postdocs and students working in the area of healthcare and deep learning at the University of Edinburgh –a powerhouse in AI, engineering and medicine;

- contribute to an exciting project where deep learning meets imaging and other healthcare data;

- collaborate with the Edinburgh-based R&D centre [4] of Canon Medical –a conglomerate in healthcare;

- interact with several clinical experts within the UK, Europe, the USA and Japan.  

Application web link:

Computer Science (8) Mathematics (25)

Funding Notes

Tuition fees + stipend are available for Home/EU and International students
This position is fully funded for 42 months (3.5 years) and is open to all students with a preference for UK/EU nationals. International tuition fees can be covered for exceptional candidates. Funding source: Canon Medical and RAENG.


[1] Project page
[2] Tutorial on disentangled representations, and
[3] VIOS website
[4] Canon Medical Research Europe website
Candidates must apply via the UoE system “see the click here to apply”. Ensure that you mention the project title within your statement and in your research proposal and mention your earliest start date. The proposal does not need to be longer than two pages. The candidate can email Prof. Tsaftaris for inquiries (include a CV and mention this position in the email subject) but note that this does not constitute a formal application.

Where will I study?

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