NCKU, College of Medicine

NCKU, College of Medicine



《6/16 Lecture》Torbjörn Nordling, Ph.D.- Opportunities in biomarker discovery


Despite almost 8000 publications and 400 patents on biomarkers in 2011 alone, FDA in the U.S.A. has so far approved only 30 cancer biomarkers for clinical use and roughly 150 tests for use in laboratories. The purpose of this talk is to initiate a discussion on issues and opportunities in biomarker discovery and validation, and demonstrate how to control the false discovery rate in the bioinformatic analysis.

I first bring forth recognized issues, such as small number of samples, lack of information on the patients, lack of standardization of sample collection and processing, inadequate matching of samples based on patient characteristics, limited metabolomic and proteomic coverage, and lack of analytics expertise.

I then focus on the bioinformatics, more precisely, the feature selection problem in biomarker discovery. By using protein data from a recent study on diagnosis of colorectal cancer, I show that the optimal subset of features in a biomarker signature may not need to include those with the largest deviation from normal. For the same data, I also show that the number of samples sets an upper limit on the number of features that can be included in a biomarker, while obtaining a separation between classes that is significantly better that the separation with random class assignment. I conclude by illustrating why false positives under mild assumptions can be avoided using Robust Feature Selection.


Dr. Torbjörn Nordling obtained both his Ph.D. in Automatic Control

(2013) and his M.Sc. in Engineering Physics (2005) from KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden. He has specialised in mathematical modelling, system identification, and machine learning with applications in biology and medicine. He has developed both new theory and methodology, most notably, for robust network inference and feature selection.

He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering at National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan. He is also associated with Stockholm Bioinformatics Center at the Science for Life Laboratory in Sweden. Previously he has done a PostDoc at the Dept. of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology at Uppsala University in Sweden. He has been a visiting researcher at Telethon Institute of Genetics and Medicine in Naples, Italy and ERATO Kitano Symbiotic Systems Project at Japan Science and Technology Agency in Tokyo, Japan. He has co-authored


8 peer-reviewed journal articles, 4 full-length conference articles, and given numerous oral and poster presentations. His research is currently focused on Systems biology, Biomarker discovery, Bioinformatics, and Data science in general.

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