Mourad Sarrouti


Comparing Encoder-Only and Encoder-Decoder Transformers for Relation Extraction from Biomedical Texts: An Empirical Study on Ten Benchmark Datasets
Mourad Sarrouti | Carson Tao | Yoann Mamy Randriamihaja
Proceedings of the 21st Workshop on Biomedical Language Processing

Biomedical relation extraction, aiming to automatically discover high-quality and semantic relations between the entities from free text, is becoming a vital step for automated knowledge discovery. Pretrained language models have achieved impressive performance on various natural language processing tasks, including relation extraction. In this paper, we perform extensive empirical comparisons of encoder-only transformers with the encoder-decoder transformer, specifically T5, on ten public biomedical relation extraction datasets. We study the relation extraction task from four major biomedical tasks, namely chemical-protein relation extraction, disease-protein relation extraction, drug-drug interaction, and protein-protein interaction. We also explore the use of multi-task fine-tuning to investigate the correlation among major biomedical relation extraction tasks. We report performance (micro F-score) using T5, BioBERT and PubMedBERT, demonstrating that T5 and multi-task learning can improve the performance of the biomedical relation extraction task.


Evidence-based Fact-Checking of Health-related Claims
Mourad Sarrouti | Asma Ben Abacha | Yassine Mrabet | Dina Demner-Fushman
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EMNLP 2021

The task of verifying the truthfulness of claims in textual documents, or fact-checking, has received significant attention in recent years. Many existing evidence-based factchecking datasets contain synthetic claims and the models trained on these data might not be able to verify real-world claims. Particularly few studies addressed evidence-based fact-checking of health-related claims that require medical expertise or evidence from the scientific literature. In this paper, we introduce HEALTHVER, a new dataset for evidence-based fact-checking of health-related claims that allows to study the validity of real-world claims by evaluating their truthfulness against scientific articles. Using a three-step data creation method, we first retrieved real-world claims from snippets returned by a search engine for questions about COVID-19. Then we automatically retrieved and re-ranked relevant scientific papers using a T5 relevance-based model. Finally, the relations between each evidence statement and the associated claim were manually annotated as SUPPORT, REFUTE and NEUTRAL. To validate the created dataset of 14,330 evidence-claim pairs, we developed baseline models based on pretrained language models. Our experiments showed that training deep learning models on real-world medical claims greatly improves performance compared to models trained on synthetic and open-domain claims. Our results and manual analysis suggest that HEALTHVER provides a realistic and challenging dataset for future efforts on evidence-based fact-checking of health-related claims. The dataset, source code, and a leaderboard are available at

NLM at MEDIQA 2021: Transfer Learning-based Approaches for Consumer Question and Multi-Answer Summarization
Shweta Yadav | Mourad Sarrouti | Deepak Gupta
Proceedings of the 20th Workshop on Biomedical Language Processing

The quest for seeking health information has swamped the web with consumers’ healthrelated questions, which makes the need for efficient and reliable question answering systems more pressing. The consumers’ questions, however, are very descriptive and contain several peripheral information (like patient’s medical history, demographic information, etc.), that are often not required for answering the question. Furthermore, it contributes to the challenges of understanding natural language questions for automatic answer retrieval. Also, it is crucial to provide the consumers with the exact and relevant answers, rather than the entire pool of answer documents to their question. One of the cardinal tasks in achieving robust consumer health question answering systems is the question summarization and multi-document answer summarization. This paper describes the participation of the U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) in Consumer Question and Multi-Answer Summarization tasks of the MEDIQA 2021 challenge at NAACL-BioNLP workshop. In this work, we exploited the capabilities of pre-trained transformer models and introduced a transfer learning approach for the abstractive Question Summarization and extractive Multi-Answer Summarization tasks by first pre-training our model on a task-specific summarization dataset followed by fine-tuning it for both the tasks via incorporating medical entities. We achieved the second, sixth and the fourth position for the Question Summarization task in terms ROUGE-1, ROUGE-2 and ROUGE-L scores respectively.


Visual Question Generation from Radiology Images
Mourad Sarrouti | Asma Ben Abacha | Dina Demner-Fushman
Proceedings of the First Workshop on Advances in Language and Vision Research

Visual Question Generation (VQG), the task of generating a question based on image contents, is an increasingly important area that combines natural language processing and computer vision. Although there are some recent works that have attempted to generate questions from images in the open domain, the task of VQG in the medical domain has not been explored so far. In this paper, we introduce an approach to generation of visual questions about radiology images called VQGR, i.e. an algorithm that is able to ask a question when shown an image. VQGR first generates new training data from the existing examples, based on contextual word embeddings and image augmentation techniques. It then uses the variational auto-encoders model to encode images into a latent space and decode natural language questions. Experimental automatic evaluations performed on the VQA-RAD dataset of clinical visual questions show that VQGR achieves good performances compared with the baseline system. The source code is available at


A Biomedical Question Answering System in BioASQ 2017
Mourad Sarrouti | Said Ouatik El Alaoui
BioNLP 2017

Question answering, the identification of short accurate answers to users questions, is a longstanding challenge widely studied over the last decades in the open domain. However, it still requires further efforts in the biomedical domain. In this paper, we describe our participation in phase B of task 5b in the 2017 BioASQ challenge using our biomedical question answering system. Our system, dealing with four types of questions (i.e., yes/no, factoid, list, and summary), is based on (1) a dictionary-based approach for generating the exact answers of yes/no questions, (2) UMLS metathesaurus and term frequency metric for extracting the exact answers of factoid and list questions, and (3) the BM25 model and UMLS concepts for retrieving the ideal answers (i.e., paragraph-sized summaries). Preliminary results show that our system achieves good and competitive results in both exact and ideal answers extraction tasks as compared with the participating systems.