Meet Ada Labs: The Reasoning and Research Teams

Nested within Ada Health is Ada Labs, a specialized group of doctors, developers, and engineers focused on reasoning and research. The reasoning team works on improving the current diagnostic engine, while the research team explores innovative approaches that are then integrated into the engine. The two teams break new ground in both medical diagnostic reasoning and artificial intelligence (AI), contributing to scientific developments that extend beyond those two fields. The Labs’ advancements make Ada smarter each day.

Who’s Who in Ada Labs

Ada Labs builds on the vision of one of the company founders and chief scientific officer, Dr. Martin Christian Hirsch, who comes from a Nobel laureate scientist family. Martin spent many years independently researching theoretical medicine, with special interest in cognitive neuroscience, semantic knowledge representation, and technology to support human decision-making. His expertise combined with that of the two respective team leaders, Nicola Vona and Henry Hoffmann, creates an ecosystem that thrives on challenges.

With a PhD in mathematical physics, Nicola’s role at Ada has evolved over the past two years. He has now taken on a key position as director of mathematical modeling for the reasoning team in Munich. His group continuously improves our current production’s reasoning technology.

Nicola Vona leads the reasoning team.
The research team, from left: Daniele Volpi, Tilmann Wilbertz, Lennert Schneider, Henry Hoffmann, and Martin Hirsch.

Research is led by Henry Hoffmann, who studied computer engineering before developing AI technology at various startups. Henry guides his Berlin-based team in exploring new reasoning technologies, giving Ada more and more understanding of the pathophysiology of the human body.

So while Nicola’s team brings analytical logic, excellence, and pragmatic problem-solving to the reasoning engine, Henry’s research team can focus on looking to the future and tackling the next big challenges with bold exploration and prototyping. Martin works closely with both teams, always challenging them to reframe problems and to think beyond the obvious solutions.

Reasoning begets Research

The reasoning team is responsible for mathematical computations deep in Ada’s ‘brain’. The team members design, implement, evaluate, and constantly improve Ada’s cutting edge medical assessment algorithms. Currently the team is highly dedicated to improving Ada’s capabilities when helping users who suffer from multiple diseases at the same time. Nicola explains: “The inference engine is the core of Ada’s reasoning capabilities. It represents medical knowledge in a mathematical form, and reconstructs which diseases might be the likely causes of each symptom, allowing us to provide personalized information to the user.”

Nicola continues: “We use a combination of algorithms inspired by the way physicians examine their patients so that Ada asks the questions most relevant to the health situation of each particular user.”

Meanwhile the research team is involved in several innovative projects, including what is called deep diagnostic reasoning. According to Henry, “The research team is currently creating a new, distinct type of model that expresses how the human body works. This model enables us to detect and understand individual conditions on a whole new level. It finally answers and makes sense of genetic tests, sensor data and lab results, and enables the discovery of individual patient conditions even if the disease has never been seen before. We strongly believe this will facilitate a more holistic approach to medical decision-making and is the future of personalized and preventative medicine.”

European Union Support and International Implications

To support new scientific advances, Ada Labs has been generously funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme through Grant №674459. The efforts of Ada Labs’ members ultimately improve access to quality healthcare information on a global level.

By Elisheva Marcus with additional reporting by Bethany Dufresne
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