Through the use of big data, informatics and machine learning, we created tools with high predictive ability for identifying patients hospitalized with COVID-19 who are at high risk of progression to severe disease or death. First, we developed an interactive web tool (Severe COVID-19 Adaptive Risk Predictor) that provides risk predictions as well as explanations of the prediction logic in terms of interpretable decision trees. Afterward, we integrated our risk calculator into Epic at Johns Hopkins in record time to facilitate use within the clinical workflow and incorporation of risk scores as part of the electronic medical record. This work is important both in the context of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the broader field of machine learning in health care. I conducted this research in the lab of Scott Zeger, as part of the Johns Hopkins Individualized Health Initiative (Hopkins inHealth).
Questions & Answers
Why did you choose Johns Hopkins for your work?
I chose Johns Hopkins for my training and research not only because of the institution’s reputation in public health, engineering and medicine, but also because of the collegial environment. After meeting the students and faculty when I interviewed and returned for second look, I knew that joining the program would afford me with world-class training as well as a second family.
What does receiving this award mean to you personally and professionally? Do you have any connection with the particular award you received?
It is an enormous honor to receive the David Yue Award. Personally, it marks a milestone for me, as a recognition of what I have been able to accomplish during my training as an M.D./Ph.D. student at Hopkins. Professionally, I am excited to be part of the legacy of Young Investigators’ Day as I prepare for my career as an independent physician-scientist. Having completed my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, I hope to be able to honor Dr. Yue’s life through continued contributions in biomedical research.
What contributed to your project’s success?
The success of the project could not be possible without the enormous amount of support and mentorship I received from individuals across multiple disciplines from public health and engineering to medicine and biostatistics. Additionally, the dedication and talent of a collaborative and multidisciplinary team as part of JH-CROWN (the COVID-19 Precision Medicine Analytic Platform Registry) were essential to the project’s success.
What thoughts do you have about Young Investigators’ Day itself, as a celebration of the roles students and fellows play in research at Johns Hopkins?
Young Investigators’ Day is an exciting celebration that highlights the talent of students and fellows in driving forward the research at Hopkins. It is a great forum to share research with others and potentially spark new ideas and collaborations.
What has been your best/most memorable experience while at Johns Hopkins?
Having been at Hopkins for almost seven years, it is difficult to pick a single best/most memorable experience. There have been so many exciting moments with amazing colleagues and mentors. If I had to pick a single experience, it would be working with the multidisciplinary COVID-19 research team. It has been incredibly rewarding to apply the machine-learning methodology I developed during my Ph.D. to address the challenges of clinical risk prediction in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Working alongside the leading experts in data science, informatics, infectious diseases and critical care to create risk precision tools to aid front-line clinicians in the COVID-19 pandemic has been truly memorable.
What are your plans over the next year or so?
I will be graduating from the M.D./Ph.D. program this year and then beginning residency. After completing my preliminary year in medicine, I will be a research track resident in dermatology, and I intend to stay in academia as a physician-scientist.
Tell us something interesting about yourself.
Promoting wellness has been a long-standing interest of mine. As an undergraduate, I was the director and editor-in-chief of Total Wellness Magazine. At Hopkins, I’ve led a variety of wellness initiatives including the B’more Healthy Cookbook and Teaching Kitchen (wshannon.netlify.app/wellness.html).