Regina Barzilay

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Regina Barzilay
Born1970 (age 53–54)
Alma mater
Scientific career
FieldsComputer science
Natural language processing
ThesisInformation Fusion for Multidocument. Summarization: Paraphrasing and Generation (2003)
Doctoral advisorKathleen McKeown[4]

Regina Barzilay (born 1970) is an Israeli-American computer scientist. She is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a faculty lead for artificial intelligence at the MIT Jameel Clinic. Her research interests are in natural language processing and applications of deep learning to chemistry and oncology.

Early life and education[edit]

Barzilay was born in Chișinău, Moldova and emigrated to Israel with her parents at the age of 20.[5] She received bachelor and masters degrees from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1993 and 1998, respectively. She obtained a PhD in computer science from Columbia University in 2003 for research supervised by Kathleen McKeown.[4][6]

Career and research[edit]

After her PhD, she spent a year as a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University.[7] She was appointed as Delta Electronics Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT in 2016.[8] She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, which prompted her to conduct research in oncology.[9] Barzilay won the MacArthur Fellowship in 2017.[10]

For her doctoral dissertation at Columbia University, she led the development of Newsblaster, which recognized stories from different news sources as being about the same basic subject, and then paraphrased elements from the stories to create a summary.[11]

In computational linguistics, Barzilay created algorithms that learned annotations from common languages (i.e. English) to analyze less understood languages.

Prompted by her experience with breast cancer, Barzilay is applying machine learning to oncology. She is collaborating with physicians and students to devise deep learning models that utilize images, text, and structured data to identify trends that affect early diagnosis, treatment, and disease prevention.[12]

MIT Jameel Clinic[edit]

In 2018, Barzilay was appointed faculty lead for AI at the new MIT Jameel Clinic, a research center in the field of AI health sciences, including disease detection, drug discovery, and the development of medical devices.[13][14] In 2020, she was part of the team—with fellow MIT Jameel Clinic faculty lead Professor James J. Collins—that announced the discovery through deep learning of halicin, the first new antibiotic compound for 30 years, which kills over 35 powerful bacteria, including antimicrobial-resistant tuberculosis, the superbug C. difficile, and two of the World Health Organization's top-three most deadly bacteria.[15][16][17] In 2020, Collins, Barzilay and the MIT Jameel Clinic were also awarded funding through The Audacious Project to expand on the discovery of halicin in using AI to respond to the antibiotic resistance crisis through the development of new classes of antibiotics.[18][19]

Awards and recognition[edit]

In 2017, Barzilay won the MacArthur Fellowship, known as the "Genius Grant", for "developing machine learning methods that enable computers to process and analyze vast amounts of human language data."[10][20] She is also a recipient of various awards including the NSF Career Award, the MIT Technology Review TR-35 Award, Microsoft Faculty Fellowship and several Best Paper Awards at NAACL and ACL.[20] Her teaching has also been recognized by MIT as she won the Jamieson Teaching Award in 2016.[20] She was nominated an AAAI Fellow in 2018 by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence.

In 2020, she became the first recipient of the $1 million AAAI Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity.[21] In 2023, she was elected to the National Academy of Medicine.[22]


  1. ^ "CAREER: Content and Cohesion Models, with Applications to Text Summarization and Natural Language Generation".
  2. ^ "Regina Barzilay, 34 / Teaching computers to read and write". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  3. ^ "Regina Barzilay". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  4. ^ a b "Regina Barzilay, Computer Science PhD '03, Wins MacArthur "Genius" Grant". 8 November 2017. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  5. ^ a b Auslender, Viki (17 April 2020). "Hitting the Reset Button on Antibiotics". CTECH -
  6. ^ "Regina Barzilay, a BGU CS Alumna and an MIT Professor, wins MacArthur "genius grant"". Ben-Gurion University Dept. of Computer Science. Retrieved 24 September 2020.
  7. ^ "'Genius grants' to Israeli computer linguist, opera kingpin with Israeli parents". Times of Israel.
  8. ^ "Regina Barzilay named Delta Electronics Professor". MIT News. Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  9. ^ "MIT Professor, MacArthur Genius Fellow, Uses Computer Learning To Predict Cancer Risks". WBUR. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  10. ^ a b "Regina Barzilay". Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  11. ^ "The Push for News Returns". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  12. ^ "Putting data in the hands of doctors". MIT News. Retrieved 2017-11-21.
  13. ^ "Regina Barzilay, James Collins, and Phil Sharp join leadership of new effort on machine learning in health". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 3 October 2018. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  14. ^ "People". J-Clinic. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  15. ^ Stokes, Jonathan M.; Yang, Kevin; Swanson, Kyle; Jin, Wengong; Cubillos-Ruiz, Andres; Donghia, Nina M.; MacNair, Craig R.; French, Shawn; Carfrae, Lindsey A.; Bloom-Ackermann, Zohar; Tran, Victoria M. (20 February 2020). "A Deep Learning Approach to Antibiotic Discovery". Cell. 180 (4): 688–702.e13. doi:10.1016/j.cell.2020.01.021. ISSN 1097-4172. PMC 8349178. PMID 32084340.
  16. ^ "Artificial Intelligence Yields New Antibiotic". The MIT Campaign for a Better World. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  17. ^ Marchant, Jo (2020-02-20). "Powerful antibiotics discovered using AI". Nature. doi:10.1038/d41586-020-00018-3. PMID 33603175. S2CID 214135545.
  18. ^ "Jim Collins receives funding to harness AI for drug discovery". MIT News | Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 23 April 2020. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  19. ^ Plato, Republished by (22 April 2020). "짐 콜린스, 약물 발견을 위해 AI를 활용하기위한 자금 지원 |" (in Korean). Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  20. ^ a b c "Regina Barzilay". Retrieved 2017-11-23.
  21. ^ "Regina Barzilay wins $1M Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Squirrel AI award". 23 September 2020. Retrieved 2020-09-23.
  22. ^ "National Academy of Medicine Elects 100 New Members". National Academy of Medicine. 9 October 2023. Retrieved 9 October 2023.