Columbia Highlights MD/PhD Student Research
Phyllis Thangaraj, MD/PhD student (Tatonetti lab)
Aspiring physician-scientists from Columbia's Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons presented their research posters at the 14th annual MD-PhD Student Research Symposium on April 25. Their research delved into a range of topics, including Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and stem cells. The event included a guest lecture by an alumna about her own career path as a physician-scientist, and culminated in the poster session judged by MD-PhD alumni who currently work at the University. Department of Systems Biology’s Phyllis Thangaraj, an MD/PhD student in the Nicholas Tatonetti lab , was named one of five poster winners at the event.
She presented work on applying machine learning methods to phenotype acute ischemic stroke patients in the electronic health records. In cohort research studies, it is essential to identify a large number of subjects in an accurate and efficient manner, but often this requires time-consuming manual review of patient charts.
“We applied machine learning methods to data within a patient’s electronic health records to develop a high-throughput way to define research cohorts,” explains Thangaraj. “Our test case is in acute ischemic stroke. We extracted clues within a person’s medical record that required minimal data processing to classify those who have had a stroke. In a separate cohort, the UK Biobank, we were able to use our model to identify patients with self-reported stroke but no mention in their medical data with 65-fold better precision than random selection of patients.” Although stroke was the test case in this particular work, she explained that their workflow could be applied to identify patients for cohorts of other diseases, particularly when the dataset has missing data.
Dr. Tatonetti is Herbert Irving Assistant Professor of Biomedical Informatics with an interdisciplinary appointment in the Department of Systems Biology . The Tatonetti lab specializes in advancing the application of data science in biology and health science. Researchers in his lab integrate their medical observations with systems and chemical biology models to not only explain drug effects, but also to gain further understanding of basic biology and human disease.
Read the full article, MD-PhD Students Present Research, Learn About the Importance of Mentorship at CUIMC Newsroom.