From Lab Learning to Machine Learning, with Daniela Ferrara, Genentech


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Daniela Ferrara, Principal Medical Director at Genentech, calls her extensive medical training in Brazil her “north star.” Yet, she was frustrated by the limitations of clinical practice.

“Having patients go blind under my watch, I realized I would never defeat blindness through practice,” she said.

She turned her attention to clinical research, where her work could potentially improve the health of many rather than the few. More recently, with a focus on applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to multimodal imaging, her work could impact an even broader population sooner.

With podcast host Firas Rahhal, MD, Dr. Ferrara discusses her medical experience in Brazil and her research fellowship at the Manhattan Eye, Ear & Throat Hospital, which is affiliated with New York University. She also discusses her move into industry; however, it’s not a complete switch: she maintains an academic affiliation with Tufts University School of Medicine, which allows her to stay connected to academia.

Whether academic research or drug development, research simply takes too long and costs too much. AI presents a solution because of its ability to analyze massive amounts of data faster than most humans—without fatigue and without coffee breaks.

Drs. Ferrara and Rahhal discuss that potential, as well as everyday use cases for AI. They also discuss Genentech’s current endeavors in AI and ophthalmology, which includes using AI modeling to predict retinal disease progression.

Listen to the podcast today to discover:

• More on Dr. Ferrara’s professional background, including her medical training at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil—one of the most prestigious universities in South America.
• How Dr. Ferrara’ work at Genentech has evolved from drug development to artificial intelligence in retinal imaging.
• How she defines AI and machine learning and why ophthalmology is an ideal focus area.
• The retina sub-specialties most amenable to near and/or long-term AI adoption.
• Details on Genentech research related to retinal condition diagnosis and treatment. Recent presentations include new studies on the use of AI and machine learning to predict geographic atrophy progression; and to assess wet AMD and DME disease activity faster and more accurately.
• How AI is already assisting physicians with real-time, in-the-clinic decision making, and what’s on the horizon.
• How AI can help accelerate drug discovery and development and why it’s imperative.
• How Genentech is working both in house and with external partners to develop AI-enabled tools.

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Daniela Ferrara, MD, PhD
Firas Rahhal, MD
Genentech Ophthalmology