Caicedo J, McQuin C, Goodman A, Singh S, Carpenter A. Weakly Supervised Learning of Single-Cell Feature Embeddings. Proceedings of the IEEE Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR). 2018:9309–9318.

We study the problem of learning representations for single cells in microscopy images to discover biological relationships between their experimental conditions. Many new applications in drug discovery and functional genomics require capturing the morphology of individual cells as comprehensively as possible. Deep convolutional neural networks (CNNs) can learn powerful visual representations, but require ground truth for training; this is rarely available in biomedical profiling experiments. While we do not know which experimental treatments produce cells that look alike, we do know that cells exposed to the same experimental treatment should generally look similar. Thus, we explore training CNNs using a weakly supervised approach that uses this information for feature learning. In addition, the training stage is regularized to control for unwanted variations using mixup or RNNs. We conduct experiments on two different datasets; the proposed approach yields single-cell embeddings that are more accurate than the widely adopted classical features, and are competitive with previously proposed transfer learning approaches.

PMID: 30918435 / PMCID: PMC6432648



Caicedo J, Singh S, Carpenter A. Applications in image-based profiling of perturbations. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 2016;39:134–142.

A dramatic shift has occurred in how biologists use microscopy images. Whether experiments are small-scale or high-throughput, automatically quantifying biological properties in images is now widespread. We see yet another revolution under way: a transition towards using automated image analysis to not only identify phenotypes a biologist specifically seeks to measure ('screening') but also as an unbiased and sensitive tool to capture a wide variety of subtle features of cell (or organism) state ('profiling'). Mapping similarities among samples using image-based (morphological) profiling has tremendous potential to transform drug discovery, functional genomics, and basic biological research. Applications include target identification, lead hopping, library enrichment, functionally annotating genes/alleles, and identifying small molecule modulators of gene activity and disease-specific phenotypes.

PMID: 27089218