Automating Biology Using Robot Scientists


Ross D. King, PhD


July 27, 2012, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm


Room 1103
900 E. 57th Street


A Robot Scientist is a physically implemented robotic system that applies techniques from artificial intelligence to execute cycles of automated scientific experimentation. A Robot Scientist can automatically execute cycles of: hypothesis formation, selection of efficient experiments to discriminate between hypotheses, execution of experiments using laboratory automation equipment, and analysis of results. Our first Robot Scientist, “Adam”, was developed to investigate yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) functional genomics. Adam has autonomously identified genes encoding locally “orphan” enzymes in yeast. It is the first machine to have discovered novel scientific knowledge.  We are now developing the Robot Scientist “Eve” to automate and integrate: drug screening, hit conformation, and QSAR development. Eve utilizes novel synthetic biology screens that combine the advantages of target-based and cell-based assays. Eve’s combination of novel automation with synthetic biology assays enables much faster and cheaper drug screening.  Our focus is on neglected tropical diseases and Eve has confirmed hits against three targets in six different parasites.

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