Northwestern Events Calendar


Xinlei Mi- Permutation-based Identification of Important Biomarkers for Complex Diseases via Machine Learning Models

When: Monday, January 24, 2022
3:00 PM - 4:00 PM Central

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Dawn Watkins  

Group: Department of Preventive Medicine

Category: Academic


Abstract- Study of human disease remains challenging due to convoluted disease etiologies and complex molecular mechanisms at genetic, genomic, and proteomic levels. Many machine learning-based methods, including deep learning and random forest, have been developed and widely used to alleviate some analytic challenges in complex human disease studies.  While enjoying the modeling flexibility and robustness, these model frameworks suffer from non-transparency and difficulty in interpreting the role of each individual feature due to their sophisticated algorithms. Herein, we propose a Permutation-based Feature Importance Test (PermFIT) for estimating and testing the feature importance, and for assisting interpretation of individual feature in complex frameworks, including deep neural networks, random forests, and support vector machines. PermFIT (available at \url{}) is implemented in a computationally efficient manner, without model refitting for each permuted data. With the application to the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) kidney tumor data and the HITChip atlas BMI data, PermFIT clearly demonstrates its practical usage in identifying important biomarkers and in boosting model prediction performance.  

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