Nearly 30 investigators from across the country, with expertise in biomedical and data science, gathered at Lake Arrowhead beginning June 15 for the second annual Data Science Innovation Lab. Organized by the Big Data 2 Knowledge Training Coordination Center (BD2K TCC), based at the USC Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, the Innovation Lab is a five-day, facilitated, residential workshop where multidisciplinary investigators create new collaborations.
Progress in biomedical research depends greatly upon new innovation. While many seek to apply the latest technologies and analytics in assessing their research questions, being truly innovative without the right team of researchers in place can be challenging.
The main goal of the Innovation Lab is to form new collaborations between early-career professionals in the field of biomedical and quantitative science, which may lead to the invention of cutting-edge technologies, offer applications around novel biological research questions and provide profound insight regarding major public health concerns.
Senior faculty mentors and invited “provocateurs” provide insight and feedback on proposed projects from newly formed teams. This year’s theme involved addressing the data science needs arising from the use of wearable or ambient sensors to study health and disease.
Innovation Lab attendees formulated proposals for mobile sensor technology beneficial in monitoring health conditions such as obesity, mild brain trauma, asthma, chronic pain, social-emotional agnosia, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiovascular diseases. These proposed sensor technologies would be internet-connected devices aiming to assist in physical health monitoring and to promote research for disease treatment and prevention by collecting individual information (e.g. “big data”) regarding their physical activity, lifestyle and environment.
Prior experience and knowledge in the development of mobile sensors is valuable. For example, Nanshu Lu, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas at Austin, included applications using her invention of an epidermal sensor “tattoo” which can be placed directly on the skin to measure heartbeat and cardiac electrical activity.
“Many researchers seek the most innovative research methodologies by which to address challenges in biomedicine,” said Jack Van Horn, PhD, BD2K TCC principal investigator and associate professor of neurology at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Bringing novelty to analysis methods is a critical element of any research project proposal. By holding this event, we seek to encourage the formation of new, multi-disciplinary teams who can bring their skill sets to vexing biomedical problems and maximize the innovation of their proposed approaches.”
The Data Science Innovation Lab is an annual event and will return in spring of 2017. For further details about the Data Science Innovation Lab and similar BD2K TCC programs, please visit: www.bigdatau.org.
— Crystal Stewart