News from the BioCity Campus

Leipzig University: New Humboldt Professorship for AI

Also this year, the University of Leipzig - this time together with the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Natural Sciences Leipzig - raised the most valuable research prize in Germany: The expert for artificial intelligence (AI), Prof. Dr. Sayan Mukherjee, will become the new Alexander von Humboldt Professor in 2022. The mathematician, statistician and computer scientist has, among other things, presented decisive work in the still young field of topological data analysis, which can be used to improve imaging processes. In Leipzig, Mukherjee's expertise in evaluating biological data will open up new avenues in precision medicine.

"I am very pleased that the University of Leipzig was once again able to successfully apply for an Alexander von Humboldt Professorship - this time together with the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Natural Sciences. Professor Sayan Mukherjee is a sought-after expert in the field of artificial intelligence, specifically topological data analysis. I find its interface to medicine extremely interesting. With his research results, more concrete statements can be made about the development of certain diseases."¸ says Prof. Dr. Beate Schücking, Rector of the University of Leipzig.

Human DNA consists of three billion base pairs, some of which can be involved in groups and combinations in the development of various diseases. At the same time, sex, age, heart rate, blood pressure and weight can be linked to a person's state of health. In order to describe and evaluate multidimensional data like this and, for example, to be able to set up and check hypotheses about causal connections, innovative statistical calculation methods are needed. Sayan Mukherjee has made outstanding contributions to the mathematical further development of statistical evaluation methods for multidimensional data, which are used in a variety of ways in computer science, imaging and interdisciplinary, especially in the field of computational biology with the aim of medical progress.

New evaluation method of the human genome brings international renown

For example, Mukherjee was involved in the development of Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA), a statistical evaluation method of the human genome that determines the biological function of entire groups of genes and their possible role in the development of cancer types. With this work he has made an international name for himself. His specialty is topological data analysis, in which high-dimensional data is visualized and individual data sets can be inferred from the geometric representation. Mukherjee's advances in this area have led to improvements in medical imaging techniques. He was also able to improve statistical error control for learning algorithms in the field of AI.

Basic research in the fight against diseases

In Leipzig, Prof. Dr. Sayan Mukherjee will continue his basic mathematical and statistical research at the Center for Scalable Data Analytics and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Leipzig and at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Natural Sciences. At the same time, he becomes director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Bioinformatics (IZBI) at the University of Leipzig. His basic research into data analysis and its presentation should bring new insights into the fight against certain diseases in precision medicine.

Prof. Dr. Sayan Mukherjee was selected for the Humboldt Professorship and is currently in negotiations with the University of Leipzig and the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Natural Sciences, who jointly nominated him for the award. If these are successfully completed, the prize will be awarded in 2022.


Prof. Dr. Sayan Mukherjee was born in India and received his academic education in the USA. In 2001 he received his doctorate from MIT, Cambridge, USA, and initially stayed there and at the nearby Broad Institute with a Sloan Postdoctoral Fellowship. Since 2004 he has been working at Duke University, Durham, USA; since 2015 as full professor. As a professor of mathematics, applied statistics and computer science, he was consistently associated with several departments. In 2011 he spent a year as a visiting scholar in Chicago. In 2008 he received a Young Researcher Award from the International Indian Statistical Association and has been a Fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics since 2018. He is also a member of various international professional societies.

Humboldt Professorships for Leipzig

Four Humboldt Professors are researching or have been researching at the University of Leipzig: Prof. Dr. Jens Meiler, Prof. Dr. Oskar Hallatschek, Prof. Dr. James Conant and Prof. Dr. Gregory Ralph Crane.

About the Alexander von Humboldt Professorship

The Humboldt Professorship is the internationally most respected and most valuable award in Germany, which is aimed at researchers from abroad. It is awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in a strict competitive process to enable German universities to appoint the world's leading researchers working abroad and to offer them internationally competitive conditions for future-oriented research. The prize money of up to five million euros is intended to finance the first five years in Germany.


Source: Press release from the University of Leipzig from July 01.07.2021st, XNUMX


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