My initial application to Outreachy was approved in March after three attempts. Outreachy provides internships in open source and open science. They provide opportunities to people subject to systemic bias and impacted by underrepresentation in the technology industry where they are living. I chose to contribute to Ersilia Open Source Initiative. EOSI focuses on bringing the right tools and structure to developing countries. Coming from Cambodia, I can relate to their inspiration in addressing the healthcare problem in less developed countries.
The Ersilia Open Source Initiative (EOSI) is a UK-registered charity founded in November 2020 with the inspiration from the extract from the WHO world health report 2013 by three early-career scientists. They believe that Low and Lower Middle-Income Countries are a significant player in scientific development.
EOSI’s mission is to strengthen the research capacity against infectious and neglected diseases by democratizing access to machine learning tools. Our vision is a world with egalitarian research capacity and access to healthcare. EOSI values are openness, innovation, empowerment, inclusion and diversity, integrity, and accountability.
Over 90% of academic research system concentrates most of the scientific potential in High and Upper Middle-Income countries. To revert the trend, LMIC institutions’ leadership of research projects needs better resources and tools. The changes should enable LMIC institutions to establish a prosperous and sustainable research environment with a capacity to level up their research facilities in their best interest.
Ersilia Initiative focuses on the following areas:
- Drug discovery for infectious and neglected tropical diseases – only 10% of drugs currently in development are tackling this disease area.
- Implementation of artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) methods – AI/ML holds the promise to revolutionize biomedical research. It can analyze large amounts of data in less time in silico hypothesis testing, experiment prioritization, and large-scale studies.
The strategic plan is written based on the real needs of scientists in LMICs: funding and collaboration with these primary aims:
- Building a sustainable organization
- Setting the basis of EOSI charitable work
- Developing what will become the main assets of the charity
Below is the summary of goals set to achieve the milestone above:
Goal 1: Facilitate the access of AI/ML technologies to all scientists
The number of models developed and published in scientific journals has increased, but a majority of them are not accessible to researchers. EOSI aims to gather resources and popularize the use of AI/ML in experimental laboratories in a single platform for drug discovery in neglected diseases.
Goal 2: Achieve sustainability for the Ersillia Model Hub
To provide access to AI/ML methods without the need to code and become a platform for the dissemination of research results. Scientists can report on the models they have used and contributed.
Goal 3: Implement AI/ML routines in LMIC laboratories
Partnerships with LMIC institutions to develop tailored AI/ML tools and provide personalized support for their implementation.
Goal 4: Increase acceptance and popularity of computational research
Ersilia aims to find the middle ground to increase the adoption of AI/ML thanks to use-case examples, strict open science guidelines, and complete documentation of each model, including training set, possible biases, application domain, etc.
Goal 5: Improve EOSI Governance and Organogram
Increase the operational capacity by involving the community stakeholders, beneficiaries, and supporters in our activities and decision-making processes, to become an inclusive organization that answers the real needs of those whom it serves.
For the full details on EOSI Strategic Plan 2021-2023, click here!