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Comprehensive Care Program featured in New York Times Magazine

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This week’s issue of the New York Times Magazine features the article “Trying to Put a Value on the Doctor-Patient Relationship,” which profiles Dr. David Meltzer’s unique Comprehensive Care Program (CCP) study. The CCP is an experiment in returning to a now-uncommon model for the doctor-patient relationship, in which patients receive consistent care from one provider whether they are outpatient or in the hospital.

The CRI has proudly been a part of the CCP study since it began; our Applications Development team built the custom dashboard and notification system that comprise the technological infrastructure for the study. The dashboard is used in the clinic to collect study information and integrate it with patients’ electronic medical records, and the notification system, which was the first of its kind at UCM, alerts physicians when patients enrolled in the study visit the emergency department or are admitted to the hospital.

“The true value of the collaboration is in combining the clinical expertise and data from University of Chicago with the machine learning expertise at Google.”

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With the recent publication of the first paper to come out of the University of Chicago’s collaboration with Google, our director Sam Volchenboum sat down with The Forefront for a Q&A about the project. Read the interview to learn more about how the researchers leveraged EHR data from the CRDW for the development of new predictive algorithms for heathcare, how patient privacy is protected throughout the process, and where Sam thinks the future of EHR data mining could take us.

Getting More from Electronic Health Records

How Health Care Changes When Algorithms Start Making Diagnoses

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Machine learning algorithms are getting better and better at predicting and diagnosing disease — even though sometimes, researchers can’t fully explain why. In a recent paper supported by CRI effort and CRDW data, researchers from the University of Chicago, Stanford University, the University of California, San Francisco, and Google determined that these algorithms could use patterns in patient data to predict diseases and the likelihood of certain medical outcomes with extraordinary accuracy.

In the Harvard Business Review, CRI Director Sam Volchenboum and Immuta Chief Privacy Officer and Legal Engineer Andrew Burt write, “This future is alarming, no doubt, due to the power that doctors and patients will start handing off to machines. But it’s also a future that we must prepare for — and embrace — because of the impact these new methods will have and the lives we can potentially save.” 

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Study with CRI bioinformatics support confirms curable intermediate state of cancer

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In a paper published in the May 4, 2018 issue of Nature Communications, University of Chicago researchers confirmed the existence of a curable intermediate state of cancer called oligometastasis. Samuel Hellman, MD, Ralph Weichselbaum, MD, and their co-authors were able to use molecular analysis to reliably predict which patients with colorectal cancer could benefit from surgery. Their findings should improve the treatment of patients with colorectal metastases that have spread to the liver, and could potentially be applicable to many types of cancer.

The CRI contributed bioinformatics analysis to the study, with our Senior Bioinformatician Lei Huang, PhD, and Director of Bioinformatics and Research Assistant Professor Jorge Andrade, PhD, named as co-authors.

Read more: Study confirms curable state between single and widespread cancers

CRI scientist named Young Investigator on Melanoma Research Alliance award

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A University of Chicago team including the CRI’s Riyue Bao has been honored with a Team Science Award from the Melanoma Research Alliance. The Team Science Awards provide funding for multidisciplinary teams to carry out high-impact melanoma research with the potential to rapidly lead to clinical advances.

The PIs on the UChicago team are Thomas Gajewski, MD, PhD; Jason Luke, MD; and Cathryn Nagler, PhD, with our own Research Assistant Professor and Manager of Bioinformatics Riyue Bao, PhD, named as Young Investigator. The award will support their continued work in investigating how the composition of patients’ gut microbiota mediates the efficacy of anti-PD-1 immunotherapy treatments for melanoma.

Using gene editing tools to understand the flu

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Using new gene editing tools, UChicago researchers have identified key genes that play a role in whether the flu virus can infiltrate a lung cell. For their study, which was published in the April 10, 2018 issue of Cell Reports, Julianna Han and Balaji Manicassamy, PhD, used CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing tools to create a library of cells, each missing a different gene. They then exposed each of these cells to the H5N1 flu virus. After selecting for cells that survived the exposure, they partnered with the CRI Bionformatics Core to analyze which genes could have played a role in the cells’ resistance. This analysis identified two key genes involved in the H5N1 response. 

Through research like this, scientists are developing a better understanding of what proteins and pathways play a role in flu infections, which should help with the development of the next wave of targeted antiviral treatments. The CRI’s Yan Li, PhD, and Jorge Andrade, PhD, were co-authors on this study.

“We are very hopeful that the industry is finally waking up to the need for better data collection”

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In an interview with Technology Networks, CRI Director Sam Volchenboum offers insights into the future of using big data to fight pediatric cancer and other diseases. In particular, he highlights the need for standardized data models, which will allow researchers to harness the true power of big data by making it easier for data from disparate sources to be harmonized and combined. In addition, advances in genomic research will be made possible when genomic data is linked with more and richer sources of clinical data. The CRI is at work on both of these issues with our initiative in pediatric cancer research data commons.

CTMS Update – Spring 2018

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The CRI’s development of an enterprise Clinical Trials Management System (CTMS) to unify, standardize, and modernize clinical research efforts across the BSD continues on track this spring. Since the source code development phase began in August 2017, our team has been working to develop the key components of the system, and are currently on schedule with this development process. The team’s Continuous Integration development method has each iteration of the software in the hands of testers and stakeholders early and often and allows early detection of any potential code integration issues. 

Meet the Computational Life Sciences Seminar Series

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In October, the Center for Research Informatics and the Graham School MSc in Biomedical Informatics program jointly launched a new monthly speaker series, the Computational Life Science Seminar Series (CLSSS). The CLSSS was created to bring together researchers from all life sciences fields and offer a forum to highlight new research and foster collaborations. The format is flexible and sessions are open to faculty, students, and researchers throughout the University of Chicago community.

Thus far, the series has hosted speakers from the Center for Data Intensive Science to showcase data commons initiatives, as well as from the Research Computing Center to present their XROMM data management system (read a recap of this session here). The next seminar, scheduled for January 25, will present research currently underway in Jack Gilbert’s laboratory looking at how genomics of the microbiome might be connected to health and obesity outcomes. Register here, and join the mailing list to stay informed about future CLSSS sessions.

CRI and Graham School offer online Healthcare Informatics course

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The Graham School MSc in Biomedical Informatics program has partnered with online education company GetSmarter to offer an 8-week online course in Healthcare Informatics. CRI Director Sam Volchenboum serves as Course Convener, guiding the course design and teaching some of the modules alongside other University experts. The online course was developed in order to bring the University of Chicago’s expertise in healthcare informatics to a worldwide audience, preparing students to enter a field that is becoming more complex and demanding by the year as more and more healthcare data is made available to study. Learn more about why we’re offering this course here. The next session begins February 28.