Transforming data into value with innovative tech
It is a pretty unique skill set to have a deep knowledge in biology paired with expertise in data analytics and artificial intelligence. But that is exactly what describes the background of Volodimir Olexiouk, our Team Lead for Data Analytics & AI!
So how did he accumulate this unique mix of skills, and land with us at BioLizard? And how do Volodimir and his team harness the power of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to tackle challenging biological projects?
Transforming data into value through innovative solutions
Volodimir Olexiouk discovered early on that bioinformatics, which combined his dual interests in computer science and biology, was the ideal fit for him. Of his bachelor in biochemistry, Volodimir remembers, “I quickly realised that I loved the science… but not the actual wet-lab work.”
It was during Volodimir’s M.Sc. in bioinformatics that he discovered machine learning. He was intrigued by this intersection between his biological background and the potential of new technologies, and recalls, “I was so eager to learn more about data and the computational side”. This led him to combine his master in bioinformatics with a master in information management, eventually graduating with both degrees simultaneously.
Hooked on dealing with data, Volodimir next embarked on a PhD focused on multi-omics data analysis. During his PhD, Volodimir’s goal was to make it easier for life scientists and physicians to deal with big data, by leveraging his skills in bioinformatics and software engineering. For instance, he created a software application for converting different proteomic and genomic standards into the then newly-defined proteogenomic file standards, which allowed users to update their data to fit the latest guidelines. One set of tools and analyses that Volodimir developed were gathered into a user-friendly visual interface for clinicians and biologists to use, and ended up having a user base of more than three hundred people across the world!
After his PhD and a stint as a post-doctoral researcher, Volodimir’s curiosity about how machine learning and AI were applied outside of academia led him to transition to industry. As a senior consultant at KPMG, one of the big four firms, he applied his background to provide data-driven, analytical solutions to clients across a variety of sectors. But in the meantime, the supervisors of Volodimir’s PhD had been busy building BioLizard – and soon after the company was founded, they asked Volodimir to join them.
From his current role as Team Lead in Data Analytics & AI, Volodimir reflects, “Upon my arrival the company consisted of six or seven people. We’ve grown well over thirty lizards, and my team grew from an initial four, to now twelve lizards! Along the way we solved various interesting biological problems for our clients, built out new service offerings and engaged on innovative projects. I can only wonder what the future will bring…”
So how exactly does the Data Analytics & AI team go about transforming data into value? Well, a lot of it comes down to leveraging their diverse expertises and creating a new powerhouse team to suit the requirements of each new project.
Spoiler alert: the future brought new collaborations with other BioLizard teams with the common goal of, as Volodimir puts it, “transforming data into value through innovative solutions.”
Collaboration is key
The expertise of the individual members of our Data Analytics & AI team ranges all the way from single cell analytics and clinical statistics, to deep learning, natural language processing, and mathematics. And these diverse skills and backgrounds allow the team to efficiently tackle complex projects using state-of-the-art analytics, modeling, artificial intelligence, and machine learning operations (MLOps). As a team, they strive to provide strategic insights for projects involving the use of AI and MLOps, by first understanding the needs and requests of their clients, and then translating those into clear solutions. “The beautiful aspect of it is that as a bonus, we participate in improving healthcare and science,” says Volodimir. “And we’ve already generated massive value for our clients from data”.
Just like the backgrounds of the team members, the projects that the Data Analytics & AI team take on are highly varied, and include applications ranging from single cell data analytics and multi-omics, all the way to protein engineering and design and biomarker discovery. Across these different applications, Volodimir knows from experience that using state-of-the-art technologies like AI and MLOps can make companies much more data driven, and accelerate the speed of their research and development activities. And in his own words, “That’s one of the key competitive advantages that a company can gain!”
The AI and analytics team: (left to right) Eva Balini, Simon Assaf, Volodimir Olexiouk, Andrea Del Cortona, Adriaan Sticker, Jan Slabbert, Umberto Postiglione, Simon Aubailly, Michiel Van der Haegen, and Steff Taelman.
One thing that nearly all of the projects that the Data Analytics & AI team is involved in have in common, is that they combine a mixture of different aspects of bioinformatics, software and AI. This means that the Data Analytics & AI team rarely works alone.
“We collaborate greatly within and across teams, as projects often have multiple aspects and therefore need distinct expertise,” explains Volodimir. “For example, when a performant AI model needs to be put in production, expertise from the Software & IT Architecture Team is required to devise an professional, production ready solution.” As another example, Volodimir is also a regular collaborator with our Data Management team – because oftentimes effective data management is a prerequisite for implementing state of the art technologies such as AI or machine learning. “When you work with BioLizard,” Volodimir explains, “You don’t work with one particular expert or team, but work with the whole panel of experts at BioLizard, [and our] collective knowledge and expertise is at your disposal.”