New Collaborative Research Centre on ’Small Data’ in Medicine approved at the University of Freiburg

The project combines computer science, mathematics, statistics, medicine, and systems modelling

The use of artificial intelligence even with relatively small biomedical data sets is being strengthened as a research focus at the University of Freiburg: The German Research Foundation (DFG) is funding the new Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1597 "Small Data" with over 11 million euros until June 2027. If continuation applications are successful, the new CRC could run for a total of twelve years. The spokesperson is Harald Binder , Professor of Medical Biometry and Statistics at the Medical Faculty of the University of Freiburg and the Medical Centre.

Complex patterns in small data sets

Artificial intelligence (AI) techniques typically require large data sets, also called "big data". Biomedical data sets, on the other hand, often only comprise a relatively small number of observations. These "small data" applications may seem more manageable at first glance, but they make it much more difficult to use data-hungry artificial intelligence approaches. The new Collaborative Research Centre is developing methods for using artificial intelligence techniques and modelling to discover complex patterns even in such relatively small data sets. This requires a highly interdisciplinary approach that combines expertise from computer science, mathematics, statistics, medicine and systems modelling - and establishes a shared language among researchers from the different disciplines.

29 Project leaders

The new Collaborative Research Centre will start in October 2023. 29 scientists from all participating disciplines will lead its diverse sub-projects over the next four years. The SMART Research Training Group, which offers positions for 31 doctoral students, is also part of the CRC. "We will make AI techniques that are already very successful for big data usable for much more challenging small data applications in medicine," says spokesperson Harald Binder.

Binder’s research interests include integrative statistical modelling of molecular measurements together with clinical features, techniques for clinical registries and routine data with complex time structures, and machine learning approaches for biomedical data with a limited number of observations. Binder is also director of the Institute of Medical Biometry and Statistics (IMBI) at the Medical Centre of the University of Freiburg.

Website of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 1597 "Small Data"

Prolongation of two existing Collaborative Research Centres

In addition, two other SFBs at the University of Freiburg have been extended by the DFG for another funding period:

SFB "Immune-mediated pathology as a consequence of impaired immune reactions (IMPATH)", whose spokesperson is Prof.. Dr.. Stephan Ehl from the Medical Faculty. The SFB aims to contribute to a better understanding of immunopathology arising from impaired immune responses.

  • SFB "Dynamic Organisation of Cellular Protein Machineries: From Biogenesis and Modular Assembly to Function", whose spokesperson is Chris Meisinger from the Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Medicine.