Fosanis: A Brave New Project

I started working at a new job last week. I am now the Head of Data Science at Fosanis GmbH. We’re a startup in Berlin, two years old, and we provide support services for cancer patients. My task is to personalise the approach.

Think personalised medicine, without the medicine. The content we provide has been professionally curated and has been shown to be beneficial to cancer patients. If you speak German, you can try out the content online right now. We will be launching an App-based implementation in the new year.

I want to then take this to the next level. Patients will be treated as a combination of their statistical attributes and their individual trajectories through the interface. From a technological point-of-view, we will be aping many of the approaches pioneered by Facebook. However, we will try to maximise a much trickier to define Quality of Life metric, rather than page refreshes or time spent on the Wall.

This is a really exciting project. I have been looking for a while to find a project where I can apply behavioural modelling approaches to healthcare goals. In a world of rapidly expanding autoimmune diseases I see this ultimately as the new treatment paradigm. What is especially nice is that, in the space in which we are operating there are no real conflicts of interest. I hope that I don’t look back on that statement as hopelessly naive. My impression is that most people in oncology are really trying to make patients’ lives better.

We will be hiring in the first couple of months of 2019, so if you know any talented biological modellers who might be interested, please tell them to email me their CV.

Simmunology was…

my first startup. It’s done, we’ve shut it down.

I joined Entrepreneur First‘s initial Berlin cohort in April (2018). Through the process, I very quickly met my cofounder and founded Simmunology Limited. We followed the checkpoints laid down by Entrepreneur First (EF), through founding the company, right up to receiving an initial investment of UK£80,000 in return for 10% of the company. Then, at the end of the kick-off meeting, I told them I wanted to shut it down… Continue reading “Simmunology was…”

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

This is an article which I don’t want to write, but I also do. I live my life as if nothing happened. I pretend nothing happened. But the effects on my life both then and since have been enormous.

Where were you when 9/11 happened? I was at my parents’ house in Ireland, preparing for my first day at university. I know this because I’ve told myself the story many times by now. I’ve seen the TV reports so often that I can remember the planes crashing into the towers. Only I can’t. I don’t remember any of it.

I was 19 and at least 6 months of my life are completely missing. I got up most days. I talked with people. I successfully registered for university. I moved into on-campus accommodation. I did sport on rare occasions. I even had a girlfriend for 3 months. But the memories were never formed, or if they were I have never had subsequent access (for the neuroscientists out there: they faded out about 12 months later). Continue reading “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”

AI in Healthcare II

Continued from Part I

Part I of this article appeared last week. In it I introduced the topic of statistical vs biophysical approaches to biological applications. I discussed the huge power of statistical approaches in image analysis and providing decision support services to doctors. I then discussed the 5 major limitations of data-driven approaches when they are applied to biological problems.

I will now continue by looking at biophysical approaches, their pros and cons, and finishing up with a brief introduction to hybrids which attempt to combine these two methods. Continue reading “AI in Healthcare II”

AI in Healthcare I


I live in Berlin, which is fast becoming the tech hub of Europe. Over the past two years we have seen a massive up-tick in the number of healthcare oriented startups, which are receiving funding on the basis of their use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). As somebody who knows a bit about the underlying technical and application problems of AI, what I see has made me very uneasy.

As a result of some personal conversations I was invited to give a Keynote address to the Digital Health Forum of the Berlin Institute of Health in March. This is a big deal because the BIH is a joint venture between Europe’s biggest teaching hospital, Charité Berlin, and one of Germany’s foremost centres for biological research, the Max-Delbrueck-Center, Berlin. The talk was extremely well received, so I have now given a public version at PyData Berlin 2018 which will be published on their YouTube channel in the coming weeks. (Update: the video is available here). In the meantime, I have written the discussion up as an article in two parts: part I is below and part II is available here. Continue reading “AI in Healthcare I”

Mathematics and Biology

Having worked in two traditionally distinct fields, both separately and combining the methods of both, I have more than a few thoughts on what separates these disciplines and how this can be quite detrimental.

As I see it there are two core differences between a mathematical world-view and a biological one: the first is in how knowledge is acquired; and the other is the difference between a dynamical world-view and a static one. What may surprise you is which one is static and which one is dynamic!

Knowledge acquisition

Continue reading “Mathematics and Biology”

Simmunology is….

my first real startup. That is, the first time that I’ve actually incorporated a company. Simmunology Limited exists since last week.

The path to incorporation has been an interesting and sometimes terrifying ride. (Aside: understatement will typically be an element of my style, this should be borne in mind when reading my prose.)  I finished up a postdoc in computational neuroscience at TU Berlin last December (2017). Since then I have been trying to establish a place for myself in the world in which I get to use my, not inconsiderable, experience to choose my own directions.

I left academia with a strong feeling that not-all is right in the academic world. In fact it is very, very wrong. But more importantly, I don’t think that the kind of cross-disciplinary talents which I bring to the table will ever be fully utilised in that sector, at least not as it exists today.

I came up with two pet projects which I thought I could work on to bring an impact to the world. The first,  Continue reading “Simmunology is….”