Jacque Adams is a first-year Master of Health Informatics student currently working at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Her first experience with genomic data was BRCA testing. She lost her mom to breast cancer, so testing was done to determine if she had the gene; fortunately, she did not. She wrote her statement of academic purpose on genomic data, so this has been an interest of hers for quite a while. She recently attended the Michigan Genomics Initiative where she was able to learn about several research projects. She is interested in learning how genomic data can be used to prevent and treat chronic diseases. Health Informatics is the intersection of patient health information and information technology, combined with a specialization such as consumer health. It also includes artificial intelligence and machine learning, both of which are important to precision health. She is curious to see how the combination of health informatics and precision health will lead to better patient health outcomes.
HeeJae Choi is currently in the PharmD program. She mentions that the concept of precision health is deeply embedded in her various major courses throughout her three years of learning. For example, she learned how to perform dosing adjustment based on patients’ individual renal and hepatic performance. She also studied individual patient's pharmacokinetics and pharmacogenomics and applied concepts to make a better therapeutic drug monitoring decisions. In the summer of 2019, HeeJae completed a summer research fellowship at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and participated in a "Precision Dosing Workshop" held by the FDA and University of North Carolina. During the workshop, the participants investigated opportunities in drug development and real-world settings to generate the information needed to support precision drug dosing in clinical practice.
Luke DeRoos is currently a PhD candidate in Industrial and Operations Engineering. Growing up in a remote farming community, Luke saw the massive burden of cancer diagnoses multiplied by a several hour drive to and from the hospital every week. His research encompasses his passion: bringing quality healthcare to underserved communities. Helping patients and providers understand the optimal timing of treatment can have a major impact on patient quality of life. Luke feels the Precision Health Graduate Certificate program will empower him to make his research goals a reality. The program’s emphasis on taking courses in discovery, treatment, and health will provide him with the breadth to understand the many stakeholders in healthcare, while the certificate courses will give him the depth to drive change. High-quality research is never done in a vacuum, and he hopes to leverage the network of experts in the program that span many other colleges and domains. He will use precision health to help reduce barriers to care and ensure that rural communities are able to get the quality healthcare they need and deserve.
Ghalia Ezzedine is a first-year MHI student. Ghalia’s particular interest is in how socioeconomic factors such as environment, human behavior, education, and genomics can influence/ implicate population and individual health. Through her experience as a project manager intern at Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN), she realized a need for more rigorous use of data to implicate psychosocial and health behaviors in the healthcare sector and leverage healthcare data, such as social determinants of health to better inform medical/health decisions. The advent of technology software tools and their abilities to enrich traditional healthcare practices with social determinants of health data can be especially advantageous for underserved populations to be able to manage health conditions affordably and drive the health outcomes in these communities. Her goal in earning the Precision Health Graduate Certificate is to learn personalized approaches and methods, predictive treatment, and obtain data-driven understanding of why and how treatments are likely to be effective for a specific patient and/or population(s).
Stephanie Hall, MPH
Stephanie Hall is a 2nd year PhD student and a Graduate Student Research Assistant in the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems (HILS) program. By enrolling in the Precision Health Graduate Certificate program, Stephanie hopes to (1) develop advanced methodological skills that she can apply to her dissertation, (2) network with other students and professionals interested in similar topics, and (3) learn more about the current state of Precision Health. As she enters her final year of doctoral coursework in HILS, she is refining her dissertation topic and is exploring the possibility of using electronic health record (EHR) data to identify, predict, and act upon important clinical factors in maternal health. However, utilizing EHR data requires robust skills in bioinformatics, data science, and analytics. The coursework in the precision health certificate program will help Stephanie to develop skills relevant to her dissertation work, including data mining, natural language processing, and machine learning. Professionally, Stephanie served as a project manager for a VA research study that used EHR data to personalize smoking cessation pharmacotherapy recommendations for veteran smokers.
Lauren Hein is a PhD candidate in the Cancer Biology Graduate Program in Dr. Carole Parent’s lab. Her PhD research focuses on understanding the effects of neutrophils—a type of immune cell—on tumor progression. She first became interested in precision health when she learned that her grandfather, who was diagnosed with breast cancer, had the BRCA2 mutation. He was then treated with drugs based on this mutation. The concept of treating cancer patients by using the tumor’s specific genetic makeup was fascinating to her. She is excited to broaden her knowledge of the precision health field by attending the courses and seminars and learning from faculty of the Precision Health Certificate Program. She is also looking forward to learning more about the social and educational aspects of precision health because she is passionate about patients understanding the care they are receiving.
Edith Jones is a fourth-year PhD Student in the department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology. Edith’s thesis research focuses in understanding the relationship between the bioenergetics and mechanical changes in the failing heart and their physiological effects in a systems biology perspective using biochemical and computational modeling approaches. As genomic and other reductionist approaches have been made available vast arrays of data on humans and other organisms, physiologists are critical for understanding how these parts operate together as systems, as well as how they respond to environmental factors such as diet, stress, exercise, and to disease perturbations. Because of her research experience at the basic science level as well as in analyzing clinical patient records, Edith has come to realize the gap that needs to be addressed for integrating information across systems from the basic cellular mechanisms of disease to its whole system implications in a patient specific matter. Edith believes the Precision Health Graduate Certificate will enable her to reach her goal of becoming an independent scientist able to combine both classical molecule biology, biochemistry and computational modeling approaches shedding new light in the understanding of cellular bioenergetics and their implications in metabolic pathology in a systems biology perspective.
Mariana Masteling Pereira
Mariana Masteling Pereira is a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering. Her PhD research is on injury prevention during childbirth. In current clinical practice, it is not possible to know which women are at risk for injury, besides by using simple capacity-demand analysis between fetal head size and the mothers’ pelvis. Mariana’s research goal is to be able to assess the risk for injury before delivery and suggest a Caesarean section to women at high risk of injury. Mariana has been working with her current research group for 2.5 years on different projects including defining a method to measure the cross-sectional area of the Pubovisceral muscle using an MRI. This method allows for extrapolating the forces the pelvic floor can withstand. She was also highly involved in an MRI study that compared qualitative and quantitative age-related differences in the pelvic floor of nulliparous women. Mariana also worked with hyperacute serum and platelet- rich plasma for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
Andrew McKeon is currently a first-year Master's student in the Genetic Counseling Program. Previously, he earned his B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Music, with a minor in Chemistry, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His advocacy experience involved serving as a Resident Advisor with Carolina Housing, where he fostered a safe and welcoming environment for students living on campus, and as a Crisis Counselor with Crisis Text Line, where he provided support and further resources to individuals with a variety of concerns. His research interests involve the use of direct-to-consumer genetic testing services to ascertain risk for late-onset Alzheimer’s Disease.
Roshan Paudel, MPH
Roshan Paudel is a 2nd year PhD student in the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems program. Roshan has an interest in how precision health impacts cancer care in terms of cancer risk assessment, diagnostic testing and treatment strategies. The intersection of precision health and cancer care is likely to grow exponentially, and new therapeutic strategies will emerge as more research is conducted. Additionally, Roshan is also interested in understanding how scholars in learning health sciences could help clinicians make better treatment decisions in rapidly evolving therapeutic areas. The implications of novel therapies are enormous in cancer care and this is where precision health stands to make a huge impact. Additionally, Roshan is committed to understanding the process of developing treatment algorithms for common and rare cancers that are specific to patients. His goal is to use precision health methodologies to achieve these goals.
Jessica Rayo is a second-year MS student in the Health Infrastructures and Learning Systems program. Her goal for enrolling in the Precision Health Certificate Program is to obtain new knowledge that will help her address issues that affect underrepresented communities in healthcare, public health and other social determinants of health. She hopes with the information learned, she will gain a better understanding of how she can lead clinical translational research and how to manage diseases in a more personalized way to further assist individuals in staying healthy and live a healthy lifestyle. Furthermore, she would like to gain better insight and understanding of how to improve individuals’ health and wellbeing through advanced technology and discover factors that can improve and influence population health and be able to personalize health.