Big Data and Machine Learning Meet the Health Sciences

  • Ives Cavalcante PassosEmail author
  • Pedro Ballester
  • Jairo Vinícius Pinto
  • Benson Mwangi
  • Flávio Kapczinski


Big data and machine learning are gaining traction in health sciences research. They might provide predictive models for both clinical practice and public health systems. Big data is a broad term used to denote volumes of large and complex measurements. Beyond genomics and other “omic” fields, big data includes administrative, molecular, clinical, environmental, sociodemographic, and even social media information. Machine learning, also known as pattern recognition, represents a range of techniques used to analyze big data by identifying patterns of interaction among features. Compared with traditional statistical methods that provide primarily average group-level results, machine learning algorithms allow predictions and stratification of clinical outcomes at the level of an individual subject. In the present chapter, we provide a concise historical perspective of some important events in health sciences and the analytical methods used to find causes and treatment of illnesses. The overall aim is to understand why big data and machine learning have recently become promising methods to define, predict, and treat illnesses, and how they can transform the way we conceptualize care in health sciences.


Big data Machine learning Health sciences Devices Patient empowerment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ives Cavalcante Passos
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Pedro Ballester
    • 3
  • Jairo Vinícius Pinto
    • 1
    • 2
  • Benson Mwangi
    • 4
  • Flávio Kapczinski
    • 5
  1. 1.Laboratory of Molecular PsychiatryHospital de Clinicas de Porto AlegrePorto AlegreBrazil
  2. 2.Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psiquiatria e Ciências do ComportamentoUniversidade Federal do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  3. 3.School of TechnologyPontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  4. 4.UT Center of Excellence on Mood Disorders, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesThe University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, McGovern Medical SchoolHoustonUSA
  5. 5.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural NeurosciencesMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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