CBAG: Conditional Biomedical Abstract Generation

July 6, 2021


  • Justin Sybrandt
  • Ilya Safro


Biomedical research papers often combine disjoint concepts in novel ways, such as when describing a newly discovered relationship between an understudied gene with an important disease. These concepts are often explicitly encoded as metadata keywords, such as the author-provided terms included with many documents in the MEDLINE database. While substantial recent work has addressed the problem of text generation in a more general context, applications, such as scientific writing assistants, or hypothesis generation systems, could benefit from the capacity to select the specific set of concepts that underpin a generated biomedical text. We propose a conditional language model following the transformer architecture. This model uses the “encoder stack” to encode concepts that a user wishes to discuss in the generated text. The “decoder stack” then follows the masked self-attention pattern to perform text generation, using both prior tokens as well as the encoded condition. We demonstrate that this approach provides significant control, while still producing reasonable biomedical text.