William Duncan, PhD, named UFCD's first Artificial Intelligence-focused hire

UB Philosophy Alum first AI-hire.

William Duncan, PhD

The University at Buffalo Department of Philosophy congratulates our alumnus, William Duncan, PhD, on being named by the University of Florida, College of Dentistry as the college’s first artificial intelligence-focused hire. “I am thrilled to have Dr. Duncan on board to help guide and support UFCD in the development of our vision for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and AI-related research initiatives and goals,” said Dean A. Isabel Garcia. 

William D. Duncan, Ph.D., has more than 20 years of data systems experience. In the early phase of his career, he worked mainly with financial systems. Currently he is involved in the development of semantic technologies for the purpose of harmonizing diverse biomedical and biological data sources, such as dentistry, environmental metagenomics, and cancer.

Duncan joined UFDC from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California where he was a software developer. He earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Western Carolina University in 1995, his master’s degree in computer science from Clemson University in 2004, and his doctoral degree in philosophy from the State University of New York – Buffalo in 2014. He was an assistant professor of oncology at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center from 2016 to 2019, and since 2016 has held an affiliate faculty position at Buffalo in the Department of Philosophy and an adjunct professor of informatics position at the Indiana University School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University–Purdue University in Indianapolis, Indiana.

“Artificial intelligence is the centerpiece of a major, long-term initiative at the University of Florida. I am proud to be a part of this drive at UF and UF Health, and with Dr. Duncan on board, realize the power that AI brings to enhance our research, improve our clinical precision and patient outcomes, help us refine our academic progress and introduce AI into our DMD and residency teaching,” Garcia said.

Duncan brings more than 15 years of experience developing and using biomedical ontologies and health informatics, as well as computer programming. He is well-versed in dental research, having led the development of the open-source Oral Health and Disease Ontology and served as co-investigator of several NIH-funded projects, including one on the application of dental data for clinical research. Some of his recent research includes the National Microbiome Data Collaborative funded by the Department of Energy, Immuno-Oncology Translation Network and a National Cancer Institute-funded cooperative agreement during his time at Roswell Park, also focusing on immuno-oncology.

He has previously collaborated with UF’s Department of Health Outcomes and Biomedical Informatics and will continue to work with the group while also partnering with other AI faculty and staff across UF and UF Health.

The University of Florida is making artificial intelligence the centerpiece of a major, long-term initiative that is combining world-class research infrastructure, cutting-edge research, and a transformational approach to curriculum. Here in the College of Dentistry, we’ll use AI to find patterns of gene expression of oral diseases and link imaging, pathology and genomic data to improve outcomes in patients. Dentistry researchers are also using multivariate machine learning methods to understand the neurobiological contributors of pain in older adults.

Duncan will focus primarily on projects and research initiated by our faculty such as improving patient outcomes and prognoses in a range of oral, dental/craniofacial diseases and conditions, developing methods to warehouse and utilize our electronic dental health records and strengthening inter-professional care teams. He will also serve as a mentor to predoctoral, doctoral and postdoctoral students and residents on artificial intelligence-related projects.

“I am delighted to have Dr. Duncan on board and launching this powerful initiative – one that brings great distinction to our college as a leader in AI applications in dentistry and dental education,” Garcia said.

Learn more about UF’s AI initiative.