From Beginner to Expert: Modeling Medical Knowledge into General LLMs

Recently, large language model (LLM) based artificial intelligence (AI) systems have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in natural language understanding and generation. However, these models face a significant challenge when it comes to sensitive applications, such as reasoning over medical knowledge and answering medical questions in a physician-like manner. Prior studies attempted to overcome this challenge by increasing the model size (>100B) to learn more general medical knowledge, while there is still room for improvement in LLMs with smaller-scale model sizes (<100B). In this work, we start from a pre-trained general LLM model (AntGLM-10B) and fine-tune it from a medical beginner towards a medical expert (called AntGLM-Med-10B), which leverages a 3-stage optimization procedure, i.e., general medical knowledge injection, medical domain instruction tuning, and specific medical task adaptation. Our contributions are threefold: (1) We specifically investigate how to adapt a pre-trained general LLM in medical domain, especially for a specific medical task. (2) We collect and construct large-scale medical datasets for each stage of the optimization process. These datasets encompass various data types and tasks, such as question-answering, medical reasoning, multi-choice questions, and medical conversations. (3) Specifically for multi-choice questions in the medical domain, we propose a novel Verification-of-Choice approach for prompting engineering, which significantly enhances the reasoning ability of LLMs. Remarkably, by combining the above approaches, our AntGLM-Med-10B model can outperform the most of LLMs on PubMedQA, including both general and medical LLMs, even when these LLMs have larger model size.

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