Session 5: Bias in Science: Biomedicine & AI

The fifth event in this series focused on how bias is instantiated in science, and the consequences this has on society. This event examined examples from biomedicine and health care, as well as artificial intelligence (AI).

Dr. Alana Helberg-Proctor gave a lecture entitled ‘Race’ and racism in biomedicine and healthcare. During this talk, Dr. Helberg-Proctor discussed the history of the concept of ‘race’ in medical science and care, and the impact of racism on health and health equity in biomedicine and healthcare.

Following Dr. Helberg-Proctor’s lecture, Dr. Sennay Ghebreab will gave a talk about how and why bias is instantiated in AI, and the work that his lab, the Civic AI Lab, is doing to leverage AI to instead increase equal opportunity.


Dr. Alana Helberg-Proctor is an interdisciplinary social scientist. In her research, Alana focuses on issues of diversity, ethnicity, and (in)equality in healthcare and medical science. Alana is currently an assistant professor at Maastricht University, where she teaches in the Global Health graduate programme. Alana was recently awarded a Marie Curie Skłodowska grant, a prestigious grant from the European Commission. With this grant, she will conduct research at the Life Sciences & Society Lab at KU Leuven on the use of “race” as a category in medical diagnostic tests in European countries.

Dr. Sennay Ghebreab is an Associate Professor of Socially-Intelligent AI at the University of Amsterdam, program director Master Information Studies, and Scientific Director of Civic-AI Lab. Sennay received his M.Sc. in Technical Information systems in 1996 and Ph.D. degree in computer vision and medical Imaging in 2001, both from the University of Amsterdam. Following his Ph.D. he took a keen interest in cognitive processing related to bias/stereotyping as a mechanism to cope with the complex (social) environment we live in. In 2009 he established the Brain & Technology Amsterdam (B&TA) lab to study and teach bias in information processing from the neural, social and computational perspectives. Currently Sennay Ghebreab leads the Civic AI Lab, where AI technology is developed to increase equal opportunity in the fields of education, welfare, environment, mobility and health