Dr. Weeber's research interest for the past ten years can be coined by the term Literature-based Discovery. Literature-based discovery is a discipline within the information sciences domain that tries to discover new knowledge by combining existing knowledge which is written down in the scientific literature. The founding father of literature-based discovery is Prof. Don Swanson (University of Chicago) with his 1986 publication that hypothesizes that Raynaud's disease patients might benefit from fish oil's fatty acids. Swanson made this connection by an extensive study of the literature and clinical studies later on confirmed the literature-based hypothesis. Since his seminal paper, different groups of scientists have been developing computer tools to efficiently analyze the scientific literature in order to generate semi-automatically well-founded novel hypotheses.
During his PhD research at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, Dr. Weeber employed the literature-based discovery paradigm in a drug discovery context. Part of this idea is that certain drugs, while developed with a single application in mind, have often a broad range of effects in the human body. Using the pharmacologic profile of a drug to find new applications, or new diseases to treat, leads to a more efficient way of knowledge re-use. With limited extra clinical testing, an existing drug can potentially reach patients earlier and at a lower cost. During the project, a discovery support computer system, several papers, a PhD thesis (2001), and four hypotheses have been generated.
After his PhD project, Dr. Weeber moved to the USA to embark upon his postdoctoral studies (2000-2002). His first position was at the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD. Here, he improved his discovery system and also work on language ambiguity issues. It turns out that the ambiguity of natural language impedes the automatic processing of the scientific literature. Dr. Weeber's second position was at the lab of Neil Smalheiser at the University of Illinois at Chicago. In collaboration with Professors Smalheiser and Swanson, he developed a new web-based discovery application that has been online from early 2002.
Dr. Weeber returned to The Netherlands after completion of his stateside work and research, and joined the Biosemantics group at the Erasmus MC - Rotterdam University Medical Center. He continued to pursue his interest in developing algorithms and systems that assist scientists in connecting different pieces of existing knowledge into novel, solid, and testible hypothesis. Discovering and solving ambiguities, especially among gene and protein symbols, in text was part of his research. Dr. Weeber was involved in the INFOBIOMED European Network of Excellence that tries to bridge the gap between bioinformatics and medical informatics in order to ultimately bring the genomics revolution's accomplishments to the patient's bedside.
In the fall of 2005, Dr. Weeber and his family moved to Pittsburgh, PA, USA where he joined Knewco, Inc. as its Head of Technical Operations USA.
Researcher for the Biosemantics group at the department of Medical Informatics, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, 2002-2005;
Started the consultancy company Biomedical Information Services in Groningen, which was subcontracted by the Arrowsmith project mentioned below, 2002;
Postdoc at the Psychiatric Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA. Arrowsmith Project on literature-based discovery under the supervision of Dr. N.R. Smalheiser and Prof. Dr. D.R. Swanson 9/2001-1/2002;
Postdoc at the Lister Hill National Center for Biomedical Communications, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, USA. Projects on literature-based discovery and medical word sense disambiguation under the supervision of Dr. A.R. Aronson, 9/2000-8/2001
Computer text analysis consultant for Bayer AG, Dormagen, Germany, 2/2000-8/2000
Ph.D. project at the Groningen University Institute for Drug Exploration, dept. of Social Pharmacy and Pharmaco-epidemiology under the supervision of Prof. dr. R. Vos, Prof. dr. L.T.W. De Jong - van den Berg, 6/1996-8/2000;
Scientific programmer at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, 3/1996-5/1996.
University: University of Nijmegen, Department of Dutch Literature and Linguistics, The Netherlands
Date: February 28, 1996
Major: Computational Psycholinguistics (Cum Laude)
University: University of Groningen, Department of Pharmacy, The Netherlands
Date: January 19, 2001
Supervisor: Prof. dr. R. Vos, Prof. dr. L.T.W. De Jong - van den Berg
Thesis: Literature-based discovery in biomedicine.