Data, Machines, and AI (DMAI) Reading Group

Data, Machines, and AI (DMAI) is a reading group to discuss AI theory and methods, with a strong bent towards understanding what AI methods are most suitable for problems in biology and medicine, and how to advance state-of-the-art AI algorithms.


Reading group meets every two weeks. We have a speaker for every meeting. The speaker selects a paper and sends it to the group coordinator one week before the presentation. The coordinator shares the information with the group. Everyone is expected to read the paper before the group meeting.

Each meeting lasts for 1 hour and has three parts:

  • Paper presentation (30 minutes): The speaker presents the paper, including background, motivation, key challenges, methods and modeling assumptions, datasets, and experiments. The focus is on algorithms and carefully considering what makes them suitable for biomedical applications and why.
  • Insights (5-10 minutes): The speaker shares their insights with the group. This includes insights related to the merits of the research, possible future directions, how this research can be used in our ongoing projects, any drawbacks and ideas on how to fix them, any related-papers (other approaches to study the same problem), etc.
  • Discussion (20-25 minutes): Q&A and broader debate, brainstorming what biological or medical questions these methods can help us answer, dataset availability, source code implementation, any other topic attendees want to discuss.

These are interactive events; questions and comments are welcome throughout the meeting!


Every meeting has a dedicated speaker responsible for selecting a paper and presenting it. We use a rotation system for speakers. Members of the reading group can expect to speak 1-3 times a year.

Paper selection

Papers presented at the reading group are published at various venues over the last two years. Following is a sampling of relevant journals and conferences.

  • Journals:
    • Nature, Science, and Cell family, NEJM, PNAS, Lancet journals, JAMA journals
  • Machine learning and data science:
    • Bioinformatics conferences: ISMB, RECOMB, PSB
    • Journals: TPAMI, JMLR, TKDD, TKDE, Bioinformatics, JAMIA, PLoS Computational Biology, BMC journals, ACS family

We are generally interested in exciting, intriguing, and thought-provoking papers, no matter their publication venue, including preprints (e.g., arXiv, bioRxiv, and medRxiv).


Every other Thursday at 4:30-5:30pm EST.


Hybrid meetings on Zoom and in-person in Countway Bldg.


Reach out to the reading group coordinator (Wanxiang Shen, <>) with questions, comments, and suggestions.

Latest News

Apr 2024:   Biomedical AI Agents

Mar 2024:   Efficient ML Seminar Series

We started a Harvard University Efficient ML Seminar Series. Congrats to Jonathan for spearheading this initiative. Harvard Magazine covered the first meeting focusing on LLMs.

Mar 2024:   UniTS - Unified Time Series Model

UniTS is a unified time series model that can process classification, forecasting, anomaly detection and imputation tasks within a single model with no task-specific modules. UniTS has zero-shot, few-shot, and prompt learning capabilities. Project website.

Mar 2024:   Weintraub Graduate Student Award

Michelle receives the 2024 Harold M. Weintraub Graduate Student Award. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in graduate studies in biological sciences. News Story. Congratulations!

Mar 2024:   PocketGen - Generating Full-Atom Ligand-Binding Protein Pockets

PocketGen is a deep generative model that generates residue sequence and full-atom structure of protein pockets, maximizing binding to ligands. Project website.

Feb 2024:   SPECTRA - Generalizability of Molecular AI

Feb 2024:   Kaneb Fellowship Award

The lab receives the John and Virginia Kaneb Fellowship Award at Harvard Medical School to enhance research progress in the lab.

Feb 2024:   NSF CAREER Award

The lab receives the NSF CAREER Award for our research in geometric deep learning to facilitate algorithmic and scientific advances in therapeutics.

Feb 2024:   Dean’s Innovation Award in AI

Jan 2024:   AI's Prospects in Nature Machine Intelligence

We discussed AI’s 2024 prospects with Nature Machine Intelligence, covering LLM progress, multimodal AI, multi-task agents, and how to bridge the digital divide across communities and world regions.

Jan 2024:   Combinatorial Therapeutic Perturbations

New paper introducing PDGrapher for combinatorial prediction of chemical and genetic perturbations using causally-inspired neural networks.

Nov 2023:   Next Generation of Therapeutics Commons

Oct 2023:   Structure-Based Drug Design

Geometric deep learning has emerged as a valuable tool for structure-based drug design, to generate and refine biomolecules by leveraging detailed three-dimensional geometric and molecular interaction information.

Oct 2023:   Graph AI in Medicine

Graph AI models in medicine integrate diverse data modalities through pre-training, facilitate interactive feedback loops, and foster human-AI collaboration, paving the way to clinically meaningful predictions.

Sep 2023:   New papers accepted at NeurIPS

Sep 2023:   Future Directions in Network Biology

Excited to share our perspectives on current and future directions in network biology.

Aug 2023:   Scientific Discovery in the Age of AI

Jul 2023:   PINNACLE - Contextual AI protein model

PINNACLE is a contextual AI model for protein understanding that dynamically adjusts its outputs based on biological contexts in which it operates. Project website.

Jun 2023:   Our Group is Joining the Kempner Institute

Excited to join Kempner’s inaugural cohort of associate faculty to advance Kempner’s mission of studying the intersection of natural and artificial intelligence.

Zitnik Lab  ·  Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Science  ·  Harvard  ·  Department of Biomedical Informatics