While data science often plays a major role in medical research, collaboration between both fields is rare at NYU since our research labs are scattered miles apart in Manhattan and Brooklyn. This is all set to change, however, thanks to the inaugural workshop on data science for medicine and health that CDS professors Kyunghyun Cho, Rumi Chunara, and Juliana Freire organized last Friday, along with David Fenyo, Narges Razavian, and Daniel Sodickson from NYU’s Langone School of Medicine.
The workshop, which gathered faculty, researchers, and graduate students from CDS, Langone, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the Tandon School of Engineering, was a chance for everyone to share their work with others outside of their department.
The talks revealed that neuroscience is an area where data science is becoming increasingly important. From Bijan Pesaran’s (Center for Neural Science) presentation on the Brain Initiative, to Fenyo’s (Langone) biomedical imaging project, and Guido Gerig’s (Tandon) talk about aging and cognition, the brain emerged as a fascinating intersection point for scholars to showcase how data science methodologies have helped to track hormone levels, manipulate protein sequences, and generate clearer MRI scans.
Another area where data science has become vital is in bioinformatics and population health research. But, as Chunara (CDS and Tandon), Yindalon Aphinyanaphongs (Langone), Aristotelis Tsirigos (Langone), and Itai Yanai (Langone) explained during the panel discussion, enhancing these interdisciplinary research opportunities depends on finding a robust way to consolidate all of our departmental datasets, resources, and research projects in one centralized hub.
Some may, of course, fear that fostering links between data science and medical research could cause many to lose their jobs: what if they are replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence? But the ultimate goal—as summed up eloquently by Sodickson (Langone)—is for data scientists and medical researchers to combine their skillsets to invent more effective technologies to combat complex conditions, and then teaching medical professionals how to use, monitor, and support those technologies when they are used to treat our patients. This successful inaugural workshop is an exciting first step toward that worthy endeavor.
The event was sponsored by the Moore-Sloan Data Science Environment, the Institute of Computational Medicine (Langone), and the Department of Radiology (Langone), and hosted at Lipton Hall at the NYU Law School. Find out more about the workshop’s presenters here.
by Cherrie Kwok