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Predicting brain disease from speech

Research Engineer

£50k – £73k • 0.1% – 0.3%
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Research Engineer - Novoic
Paid. Full time.
Biotech AI startup detecting brain disease from speech

“Great to meet you - what brings you here?”

Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias will affect 1 out 3 people (~same as all cancers combined) yet there isn’t a single disease-modifying drug on the market. The problem is the lack of an easy, cheap, scalable way to detect the disease early enough.

Subtle changes in an Alzheimer’s patients’ speech appear 20-30 years before routine clinical diagnosis and – with good enough technology – can be detected reliably. Let’s get to work.

“... sorry, your name was?”


We’re a small, but fast growing, driven team of Oxford/Cambridge/Stanford machine learning researchers, neuroscientists, clinicians, and the exCEO of a top pharma company, backed by some of the best venture funds in Europe. We’re also a team of humans. Humans who are ambitious, humble, weird, brilliant, and here to get to work to solve some fundamentally hard problems. If we succeed the rewards will be almost inconceivable. And we come to work every morning (or afternoon depending on circadian rhythm) with a deep sense of meaning. We’re many more things, which you’ll experience if you come and talk with us.

“How can I help?”

We’ve made real progress to solve this problem. We’re the furthest ahead in building something that’s sustainable and scalable; that will work in the existing landscape now, and as it’s changing. But we still need a lot of help. And we need the extraordinary kind.

“Why do you need my help right now?”

We’re already by far producing best-in-class research in NLP, speech/language understanding etc and a major bottleneck for us is capacity – having more hands to do great ML implementations here. That said, we know there are many even better ideas out there we haven’t thought of and need people even smarter than us, that we can work with to work out what those are.

“What kind of person are you looking for?”

- Bursting with ML ideas (particularly deep signal processing, NLP, audio and text representations – and things we don’t know yet are important; tell us). Every time you read a new paper (which is often) it sparks a rich range of applications, related ideas, or combination of ideas.
- Natural communicator of complex concepts. Can read an ML paper and explain it to your grandparents in an engaging way (including grandparents that didn’t work on neural net models in the 70s).
- Obsessive doer that executes well. Someone who feels they always need to code things up that they read in papers (or better yet– code something up that’s better or shows how the paper is limited). Hungry for data.

“What will I actually do?”

Read mountains of cutting-edge NLP/DL/signal processing papers, synthesize research and generate ideas (= application of ideas to our domain), synthesis of multiple ideas or entirely new ones.
This could be papers such as:
Towards Robust Image Classification Using Sequential Attention Models
Continuous Hierarchical Representations with Poincaré Variational Auto-Encoders
On the Cross-lingual Transferability of Monolingual Representations
Zero-shot Word Sense Disambiguation using Sense Definition Embeddings
Ordered Neurons: Integrating Tree Structures into Recurrent Neural Networks
Audio-Linguistic Embeddings for Spoken Sentences

- Have ongoing relationships and discussions with the best academics in the field to push the mutual research agenda.
- Code up and try out lots of ideas quickly.
- Take ownership of your research. Present your work to the rest of the team. Bring the best ideas to proof-of-concept or production level. If your idea is promising, lead a project and organise the other REs.
- Be a conscientious engineer when it counts (i.e. all the time except for quick mock-ups of ideas): minimizing technical debt through commenting, documentation, tracking.
- Scientific communication: writing papers, material for IP filings, making plots/graphics for customers.
- Don’t work in isolation, use the rest of the R&D team for ideas sharing, problem solving etc. Do your part to make this an academic community, but one that gets things done like a tech startup.
- Be extremely structured about the research/project management. This is the only way we can make research go fast without drowning. Conducting literature reviews, change logging, benchmarking etc.
- AUTOMATION AUTOMATION AUTOMATION. You will contribute to making everything we do as automatic and as interpretable as possible. CI/CD pipelines, automatic benchmarking of models etc. This will be a core part of the job. We are obsessed with automation and visualisation.

Some must-have requirements

- Degree from top university in comp sci/ML/maths/physics/etc. Or have done something that demonstrates equivalent (or greater) talents and skills.
- 3+ years of research experience in ML or applying ML, preferably for audio/linguistics (academic or industry, PhD great).
Very strong coding skills in Python, which will be probed in the interview process.

What we’d love to give you if you join

- Daily challenges, variety, flexibility. An insane learning curve (like the roads in that scene from Inception).
- Insight, exposure, hands-on experience into how an early-stage venture-funded deep-tech/biotech startup works. A real, great one ;) - We are a small team and fully transparent. You’ll see how clinical trials are organised, a healthcare product is built, a team is built, the biggest pharma companies are sold to.
- Sense of meaning (and bragging rights) that you have a significant role in changing the way brain diseases are diagnosed, making millions of patients’ lives better. Working on something we find meaningful is something our whole team deeply cares about and if you won’t have the same spark after about the second time you’ve spoken with us, we’re probably not a great fit for you.
- Flexible working arrangements. If you need to leave early on Thursdays to pick up your kids from school, or work from home on a - -Monday while waiting for the plumber, go for it. As long as you’re producing insane work (and taking care of yourself/your family in the process), we’ve got your back.
- You’ll be an author on any paper you contribute to. We’ll soon be publishing the most influential work in our field, based on our cutting-edge research and unique datasets. Being a contributor to these papers is going to be hard work – but the upside will be huge.
- 6 weeks’ holiday per year.
- Competitive compensation, including equity.

Applications received through our website/job board will be prioritised:

Novoic at a glance

Predicting brain disease from speech

Novoic focuses on Biotechnology, Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals, Health Care Information Technology, and Bioinformatics. Their company has offices in London and Greater London. They have a small team that's between 1-10 employees.

You can view their website at http://novoic.com or find them on LinkedIn.

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