Asst. Prof. Ercüment Çiçek of the Department of Computer Engineering has received a Pilot Award from SFARI (the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, NY, USA) for his project “Speeding Up Autism Gene Discovery via Multitask Learning on Comorbid Neuropsychiatric Disorders.” The award was among 12 grants presented by SFARI in response to over 200 applications submitted to their summer 2019 request for applications. SFARI will provide the Çiçek Lab with a budget of $136,400 for one year. With his graduate students İlayda Beyreli and Oğuzhan Karakahya, Dr. Çiçek will develop novel algorithms based on deep learning on gene interaction networks to discover new autism risk genes. For the first time, the proposed multitask learning approach aims at leveraging information from related disorders such as intellectual disability.
The aim of the SFARI Pilot Awards, which are presented twice each year, is to “support novel, high-risk and exploratory projects in autism research that have the potential to yield transformative results.”