3MT winner to bring AI drug design research to provincial finals

Karl Grantham’s calendar is marked for the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) provincial finals next month after he beat the clock, won over the judges and came out on top at the Brock Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Finals on April 17.

Grantham triumphed over six other Brock finalists to earn a spot in the provincial finals at Queen’s University on Wednesday, May 17. He will compete against students from across Ontario to keep the audience and judges engaged with complex research using just one slide and a three-minute presentation.

At the finals, Grantham will present his Master of Science in Computer Science thesis “AI Enabled Drug Design and Side Effect Prediction Powered by Multi-Objective Evolutionary Algorithms and Transformer Models.”

“It’s a long-winded way of saying I’m using artificial intelligence to help design new medications,” Grantham explains. “With an aging population in Canada and many other parts of the world, adverse drug reactions are going to become more and more of a problem.”

Grantham says side effects are a significant problem in health care because of adverse reactions caused by drugs released to market and the role side effects play in late-stage drug development failures.

“By attempting to intercept these problems at earlier stages of drug design, the process of drug development can be made faster, cheaper and safer,” he says.

Filtering a master’s thesis in three minutes and explaining it in accessible terms is not an easy task. Grantham found he had to be ruthless in editing his presentation so the audience could get a good idea of his work in the allotted time.

By the May finals, Grantham says he hopes to have completed more of his experiments so he can present his work from beginning to end.

“Aside from that, it will be practise, practise, practise from now until then.”

The Faculty of Graduate Studies encourages the Brock and Niagara communities to watch a livestream of the finals starting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, May 17.

Winners of the Brock 3MT Finals include:

  • First place: Karl Grantham, Computer Science, “AI Enabled Drug Design and Side Effect Prediction Powered by Multi-Objective Evolutionary Algorithms and Transformer Models”​
  • Second place: Alex Wilder, Biological Sciences, “Smell you later: Understanding the role of olfactory signals in African penguin communication​”
  • Third place: Zoe Gagnon, Biological Sciences, “Examining the role of Sema3A in hippocampal spatial memory formation in the adult mouse​”
  • People’s Choice Award: Mourin Mostafiz, Management, “Responding to organizational crisis: The role of message framing and information processing system”

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