McGill researchers claim three spots in demanding AI funding competition

Professors Nicole Li-Jessen, David Buckeridge, and Brent Richards to receive over $1 million in funding for collaborations with UK researchers in artificial intelligence
From left to right: Brent Richards, David Buckeridge and Nicole Li-Jessen

Earlier today, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) announced the results of the competition for the Canada-UK Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative, and three McGill teams were among the selected projects. The initiative supports the development of collaborations in AI projects between researchers in Canada and in the UK. Each winning project will receive up to $173,333 per year up to three years, for a total of $520,000 CAD per project.

“For three McGill projects to be chosen in this highly competitive initiative highlights the expertise and quality of our AI research,” said Martha Crago, Vice-Principal, Research and Innovation. “Thank you to the SSHRC, NSERC and CIHR for their significant investment in these projects, and congratulations to all the professors, and their respective teams.”

The high visibility of AI research resulted in this international funding call receiving a large pool of applications, and with only 10 projects awarded out of more than 110 applicants, this was an extremely tight competition. The funding opportunity was coordinated by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) of the UK, and the three Canadian research-funding agencies: the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council; and the SSHRC. It marks the first time these agencies collaborate with their UK peers in such a funding call.

Each project has two principal investigators (PI), one based in Canada and one in the UK, and involves at least two of the following domains: social sciences and humanities, health and biomedical sciences, and natural sciences and engineering. In addition, winning projects support responsible AI and establish new partnerships between researchers in Canada and the UK. The three McGill projects and their two PIs are as follows (funding agency in brackets):

  • AI-driven biomaterial screening to accelerate medical device development (NSERC)
    Nicole Li-Jessen, Assistant Professor in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders (McGill PI) Dr. Adam Celiz, Imperial College London (UK PI)
  • EPI-AI: Automated Understanding and Alerting of Disease Outbreaks from Global News Media (CIHR)
    David Buckeridge, Professor in the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health (McGill PI) with Dr. Nigel Collier, University of Cambridge (UK PI)
  • Artificial intelligence to create equitable multi-ethnic polygenic risk scores that improve clinical care (CIHR)
    Brent Richards, Associate Professor in the Departments of Medicine, Human Genetics, and Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health (McGill PI based in Jewish General Hospital) with Dr. Mike Inouye, University of Cambridge (UK PI)