High throughput screening determines the effects of many conditions on a given biological target. Currently, to estimate the effects of those conditions on other targets requires either strong modeling assumptions (e.g. similarities among targets) or separate screens. Ideally, data-driven experimentation could be used to learn accurate models for many conditions and targets without doing all possible experiments. We have previously described an active machine learning algorithm that can iteratively choose small sets of experiments to learn models of multiple effects. We now show that, with no prior knowledge and with liquid handling robotics and automated microscopy under its control, this learner accurately learned the effects of 48 chemical compounds on the subcellular localization of 48 proteins while performing only 29% of all possible experiments. The results represent the first practical demonstration of the utility of active learning-driven biological experimentation in which the set of possible phenotypes is unknown in advance.
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