Dr. Ming Li, founder of BSI & University of Waterloo Professor, has won the 2024 IEEE Computer Society W. Wallace McDowell Award

Dr. Ming Li is the founder of Bioinformatics Solutions Inc. (BSI) and a University Professor at the University of Waterloo. His work has made significant contributions to modern information theory and bioinformatics. Recognised with the Killam Prize and elected as a fellow of prestigious organisations such as RSC, ACM, IEEE, and ISCB, Dr. Li, along with colleagues like Bennett, Gacs, Vitanyi, and Jiang, have played a crucial role in developing Kolmogorov complexity and its applications in computer science.

Dr. Li extended Kolmogorov complexity to measure information not only within one sequence but also between two sequences, addressing a fundamental aspect in information theory. His incompressibility method has been instrumental in solving longstanding problems in the average-case analysis of algorithms. Dr. Li’s collaboration with Paul Vitanyi resulted in a highly regarded book that has become a classic, providing foundational knowledge in various research fields, including deep learning and large language models.

In bioinformatics, Dr. Li’s work on the shortest common supersequence, conducted with Blum, Jiang, Tromp, and Yannakakis, laid the groundwork for shotgun sequencing and is widely referenced in computational biology literature. His team’s optimised spaced seeds have revolutionised homology search methods. In 2017, when Nature Biotechnology presented the challenge of neoantigen discovery and validation using mass spectrometry, Dr. Li successfully addressed the issue through a series of cross-disciplinary publications. His pipeline, outlined in papers published in prestigious journals such as PNAS, Nature Methods, Nature Machine Intelligence, and Nature Communications, serves the community by facilitating the identification of immunogenic neoantigens from tumour samples. PEAKS Online, a tool developed by Dr. Li and the team here at BSI was featured in Nature Communications 2022, and is widely used by pharmaceutical and academic users, making a significant impact in research.

Dr. Li’s work is fundamental to the research and development at BSI and this crucial research will further extend the deep learning revolution to discovery proteomics, immunopeptidomics, and glycoproteomics. Together, this will facilitate drug discovery and advance the frontier of biological research through AI-driven software solutions.

Congratulations Dr. Ming Li! Your work makes significant impact in the world of computer sciences and is the foundation elevating PEAKS to the forefront of research. Learn more about this year’s W. Wallace McDowell Award and the IEEE Computer Society.

About W. Wallace McDowell Award

A certificate and honorarium award presented for outstanding recent theoretical, design, educational, practical, or other similar innovative contributions that fall within the scope of IEEE Computer Society interest.