Separating Wheat from Chaff: Joining Biomedical Knowledge and Patient Data for Repurposing Medications

  • Galia Nordon Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
  • Gideon Koren Maccabi-Kahn Institute of Research and Innovation
  • Varda Shalev Maccabi-Kahn Institute of Research and Innovation
  • Eric Horvitz Microsoft Research
  • Kira Radinsky Technion-Israel Institute of Technology


We present a system that jointly harnesses large-scale electronic health records data and a concept graph mined from the medical literature to guide drug repurposing—the process of applying known drugs in new ways to treat diseases. Our study is unique in methods and scope, per the scale of the concept graph and the quantity of data. We harness 10 years of nation-wide medical records of more than 1.5 million people and extract medical knowledge from all of PubMed, the world’s largest corpus of online biomedical literature. We employ links on the concept graph to provide causal signals to prioritize candidate influences between medications and target diseases. We show results of the system on studies of drug repurposing for hypertension and diabetes. In both cases, we present drug families identified by the algorithm which were previously unknown. We verify the results via clinical expert opinion and by prospective clinical trials on hypertension.

IAAI Technical Track: Emerging Papers