This year’s Summer of Research student presentations were some of the best and most polished Precision Driven Health (PDH) has ever seen.

Each summer, PDH funds a group of students to undertake 10-week research projects. This year’s group of 10 students met in early March to present their progress and results to PDH executives and advisory board members, research supervisors and commercial partners.

PDH research into health data science involves projects with academic rigour and a health focus, as well as commercial relevance. They aim to deliver discoveries which can lead to economic success and health benefits for New Zealanders. The projects supported this year were from a mixture of areas, covering everything from the detail of data science analysis techniques on natural text language through to automated interpretation of image data, and financial impact evaluation of software used in surgical theatres.

This year’s Summer of Research projects were:

  • Financial Evaluation of EDDI (Early Detection Decision Information) – James Zhang
  • Modelling Dargaville Medical Centre – Lucy McSweeney
  • Evaluating biomedical word embeddings against pre-trained word embeddings – Aaron Zhang
  • Feature importance for adverse drug event named entity recognition – Hamish Huggard
  • Clinical abbreviations detection and normalisation – Enno Huang
  • Interpretable image-based machine learning models in healthcare – Harper Shen
  • Application of deep learning techniques in a de-identification system – Yicheng Shi
  • Text classification for medical question and answering systems – Qiming (Bill) Bao
  • Effects of resourcing on timely and effective care of patients in a lymphoedema clinic – Ellen Gibbs
  • Deidentification of GP e-referrals for a deep-learning based triage decision support tool – Nick James

This summer’s group of students showed an impressive ability to clearly communicate their science to a diverse audience, meaning that even people not familiar with data science could understand why the research was important.

PDH is very proud of the summer research programme, which has run the last three summers. Our summer projects are a mix of things we would really like to look at but aren’t in scope to cover in one of our current projects, and new ideas to explore.

We consider this a really important part of what we do, because it helps us to encourage students who are embarking on what can be one of the most exciting careers around today: data science and health.

We want to offer a good experience and include the students in the PDH collaboration, mixing our data science and research with clinical practice. We are finding cool ideas to take all the way to helping people become healthier and stay healthier.

I hope each student and supervisor will consider how to take their research project to the next level. In many cases we hope the research will be published somewhere. We would also like to see some of these projects become a feature or product, or something that could be trialled in a clinical environment.

These researchers have done a lot over the summer, and that’s just scratching the surface of what is possible.

Precision Driven Health funds the annual Summer of Research programme. This month we are featuring a series of posts examining the 2018-2019 student projects. The research is at an early “proof of concept” stage. These projects offer fresh insights into what healthcare will look like when precision medicine is widely used.