Understanding Biology in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

This conference aims to start a conversation around the role of AI in scientific understanding, and whether breakthroughs in the intersection of AI and biology are pushing us to revise our notion of scientific understanding.

30th June 2023

Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge, UK

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Keynote Speakers

Full Program


Sarah Teichmann

Head of Cellular Genetics, Wellcome Sanger Institute, University of Cambridge


Charlotte Deane

Professor of Structural Bioinformatics, Department of Statistics, University of Oxford


Pushmeet Kohli

Vice President of Research (AI for Science, Reliable and Responsible AI), DeepMind


Nicola Richmond

Vice President of Artificial Intelligence, BenevolentAI


Emily Sullivan

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Irène Curie Fellow, Eindhoven University of Technology


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What place does Artificial Intelligence have
in the traditional picture of scientific understanding?

While machine learning and artificial intelligence methodologies have seen widespread adoption in modern biology, the scientific rationale for applying these models remains underdeveloped.

Many researchers apply AI as “standard practice”, or simply to add additional complexity to their analysis. However, we feel that the effective use of AI in biology requires careful consideration of the theoretical and philosophical aspects of these models and techniques.

This conference aims to build a community of scholars and thought-leaders from artificial intelligence and machine learning, biology and chemistry, as well as philosophy, in order to address biological discovery from three angles: theoretical, scientific, and philosophical.

Scientific Advisory Board


Andreas Bender

Professor of Molecular Informatics, University of Cambridge & Pangea Botanica


Andrew Blake

Fellow, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge & Emeritus Distinguished Scientist, Microsoft


Hasok Chang

Hans Rausing Professor, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge


Holly Hedgeland

Senior Tutor & Fellow in Physics, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge


Lori Passmore

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge & Member, European Molecular Biology Organisation


Petar Veličković

Staff Research Scientist, DeepMind & Affiliated Lecturer, University of Cambridge


Pietro Liò

Professor, Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge


Pietro Sormanni

Group Leader, Royal Society University Research Fellow, University of Cambridge


Sohini Kar-Narayan

Professor, Department of Materials Science & Metallurgy, University of Cambridge

Organising Committee


Adham El Shazly

PhD Student, Faculty of Philosophy

Phillosophy, Artificial Intelligence


Chaitanya K. Joshi

PhD Student, Department of Computer Science and Technology

Artificial Intelligence, Biology


Elsa Lawrence

PhD Student, Department of Pharmacology

Biology, Artificial Intelligence


Matthew Greenig

PhD Student, Department of Chemistry

Biology, Artificial Intelligence


Srijit Seal

PhD Student, Department of Chemistry

Chemistry, Artificial Intelligence

Sponsors and Partners

This conference is possible through a grant from the Accelerate Program for Scientific Discovery at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge, as well as the Cambridge Centre for Data-Driven Discovery, and the support of Clare Hall, Cambridge.

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Getting Here

Train: For visitors arriving from outside the Greater Cambridge area, travel via Cambridge Railway station is likely to be the easiest transport option. The station is approximately 15 minutes walk from the department. There are also taxis available at the station. Note that rail strikes may affect train availability around the conference.

Bus: Various bus routes connect the Greater Cambridge area to the Department of Chemistry, including the Citi 1, Citi 7, and Universal bus routes. Check the local bus schedules and routes to find the most convenient option for you.

Bicycle: Traveling by bicycle can also be a convenient option, and the Department of Chemistry offers ample bicycle parking facilities.

Car: If you prefer to drive, you can reach the Department of Chemistry by car. Unfortunately the department cannot offer any parking for this event, however, paid parking is available nearby at the Grand Arcade.