In vitro cellular experimentation with genetic interventions, using for example CRISPR technologies, is an essential step in early-stage drug discovery and target validation that serves to assess initial hypotheses about causal associations between biological mechanisms and disease pathologies. With billions of potential hypotheses to test, the experimental design space for in vitro genetic experiments is extremely vast, and the available experimental capacity - even at the largest research institutions in the world - pales in relation to the size of this biological hypothesis space. Machine learning methods, such as active and reinforcement learning, could aid in optimally exploring the vast biological space by integrating prior knowledge from various information sources as well as extrapolating to yet unexplored areas of the experimental design space based on available data. However, there exist no standardised benchmarks and data sets for this challenging task and little research has been conducted in this area to date. Here, we introduce GeneDisco, a benchmark suite for evaluating active learning algorithms for experimental design in drug discovery. GeneDisco contains a curated set of multiple publicly available experimental data sets as well as open-source implementations of state-of-the-art active learning policies for experimental design and exploration.



Estimating personalized treatment effects from high-dimensional observational data is essential in situations where experimental designs are infeasible, unethical, or expensive. Existing approaches rely on fitting deep models on outcomes observed for treated and control populations. However, when measuring individual outcomes is costly, as is the case of a tumor biopsy, a sample-efficient strategy for acquiring each result is required. Deep Bayesian active learning provides a framework for efficient data acquisition by selecting points with high uncertainty. However, existing methods bias training data acquisition towards regions of non-overlapping support between the treated and control populations. These are not sample-efficient because the treatment effect is not identifiable in such regions. We introduce causal, Bayesian acquisition functions grounded in information theory that bias data acquisition towards regions with overlapping support to maximize sample efficiency for learning personalized treatment effects. We demonstrate the performance of the proposed acquisition strategies on synthetic and semi-synthetic datasets IHDP and CMNIST and their extensions, which aim to simulate common dataset biases and pathologies.


Aerosol-cloud interactions include a myriad of effects that all begin when aerosol enters a cloud and acts as cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). An increase in CCN results in a decrease in the mean cloud droplet size (r$_e$). The smaller droplet size leads to brighter, more expansive, and longer lasting clouds that reflect more incoming sunlight, thus cooling the earth. Globally, aerosol-cloud interactions cool the Earth, however the strength of the effect is heterogeneous over different meteorological regimes. Understanding how aerosol-cloud interactions evolve as a function of the local environment can help us better understand sources of error in our Earth system models, which currently fail to reproduce the observed relationships. In this work we use recent non-linear, causal machine learning methods to study the heterogeneous effects of aerosols on cloud droplet radius.


Inducing point Gaussian process approximations are often considered a gold standard in uncertainty estimation since they retain many of the properties of the exact GP and scale to large datasets. A major drawback is that they have difficulty scaling to high dimensional inputs. Deep Kernel Learning (DKL) promises a solution: a deep feature extractor transforms the inputs over which an inducing point Gaussian process is defined. However, DKL has been shown to provide unreliable uncertainty estimates in practice. We study why, and show that with no constraints, the DKL objective pushes "far-away" data points to be mapped to the same features as those of training-set points. With this insight we propose to constrain DKL's feature extractor to approximately preserve distances through a bi-Lipschitz constraint, resulting in a feature space favorable to DKL. We obtain a model, DUE, which demonstrates uncertainty quality outperforming previous DKL and other single forward pass uncertainty methods, while maintaining the speed and accuracy of standard neural networks.



We study the problem of learning conditional average treatment effects (CATE) from high-dimensional, observational data with unobserved confounders. Unobserved confounders introduce ignorance -- a level of unidentifiability -- about an individual's response to treatment by inducing bias in CATE estimates. We present a new parametric interval estimator suited for high-dimensional data, that estimates a range of possible CATE values when given a predefined bound on the level of hidden confounding. Further, previous interval estimators do not account for ignorance about the CATE associated with samples that may be underrepresented in the original study, or samples that violate the overlap assumption. Our interval estimator also incorporates model uncertainty so that practitioners can be made aware of out-of-distribution data. We prove that our estimator converges to tight bounds on CATE when there may be unobserved confounding, and assess it using semi-synthetic, high-dimensional datasets.


Recommending the best course of action for an individual is a major application of individual-level causal effect estimation. This application is often needed in safety-critical domains such as healthcare, where estimating and communicating uncertainty to decision-makers is crucial. We introduce a practical approach for integrating uncertainty estimation into a class of state-of-the-art neural network methods used for individual-level causal estimates. We show that our methods enable us to deal gracefully with situations of "no-overlap", common in high-dimensional data, where standard applications of causal effect approaches fail. Further, our methods allow us to handle covariate shift, where test distribution differs to train distribution, common when systems are deployed in practice. We show that when such a covariate shift occurs, correctly modeling uncertainty can keep us from giving overconfident and potentially harmful recommendations. We demonstrate our methodology with a range of state-of-the-art models. Under both covariate shift and lack of overlap, our uncertainty-equipped methods can alert decisions makers when predictions are not to be trusted while outperforming their uncertainty-oblivious counterparts.