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December 2017 - Issue 12
Welcome to the Battelle Health & Analytics, a quarterly publication from Battelle. We put this together as a service to our public health clients, to keep you informed of the latest public health news from our researchers and the industry.
The Battelle Health & Analytics team works with agencies and healthcare institutions to advance public health research, practice and policy with the latest science and technology. Battelle Health and Analytics will keep you up-to-date on cutting edge research and public health innovations.
Global Environmental Health Day 2017 brought together attendees from U.S. government agencies, nonprofit organizations, academia and the private sector to celebrate and share lessons learned and best-practices from community-engaged environmental health research across the globe. Battelle was pleased to participate with sessions highlighting community-engaged environmental health.
The day was hosted by the National Institute for Environmental Health Science (NIEHS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on September 15 in Research Triangle Park, NC. Common themes and topics of discussion at the event included the critical role communities play in environmental health research, the value of citizen science, the importance of addressing health disparities and social determinants of health when working in environmental health, the impacts of chemical exposure to vulnerable populations and the need for actionable science.
Natasha Sadoff, a Research Scientist on Battelle’s Environmental Health team, presented a lightning talk and a poster outlining best practices in community-engaged environmental health research based on Battelle’s experience in Latin America. Natasha’s presentations highlighted Battelle’s capacity-building approach to global environmental health work, which emphasizes a project planning cycle based on community- and partner-based planning, implementation and evaluation. She also shared best practices for more effective, sustainable environmental health research, including fostering partner engagement, co-development and exchange of information, and communications, beginning with the project idea itself. These best practices, tested through years of experience in implementing this capacity building approach, could also apply for other topics and sectors.
Natasha highlighted examples of Battelle’s experience in international capacity building, including:
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) investigates and responds to suspected toxic exposures to hazardous substances, from lead in Michigan to wildfire smoke in California. As part of its mission, it makes up-to-date information about environmental exposure risks available to local, state and federal agencies, researchers, the media and the public.
Tracking and responding to these requests for information is a huge job for the agency. Currently, responding to information requests is a labor-intensive process that puts a significant strain on human resources.
ATSDR has contracted with Battelle to find ways to make the process more efficient and reduce associated labor costs. We are working with the agency to document current processes and develop a new process map that outlines more efficient ways to manage and respond to the requests. Battelle quality experts will then coordinate a system that allows the agency to track requests for data and provide the requested data in the most efficient manner possible.
The work builds on nearly two decades of collaboration between Battelle, ATSDR and the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH). ATSDR and NCEH are sister agencies, both addressing environmental health risks but with different missions and funding sources. ATSDR, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), responds to environmental health emergencies, investigates potential toxic exposures, conducts research on the health impacts of hazardous waste sites, and provides guidance to state and local public health partners. NCEH, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coordinates national programs that reduce environmental health risks and protect vulnerable populations. Battelle has supported environmental health programs at NCEH in a variety of capacities for 18 years. This history has given us deep insight into the needs of the agencies and the environmental health challenges they are addressing.
The new contract will leverage this experience along with Battelle’s expertise in environmental health, toxicology, data management and quality assurance. Battelle brings a unique blend of competencies that includes deep environmental subject matter expertise as well as information technology, computer science and environmental informatics. The Battelle team is already working with NCEH and other agencies to build custom databases and algorithms to manage information, enable complex queries and automate systems.
Depending on the findings and recommendations, there may be additional follow-up work to implement new systems and processes outside the scope of this contract. This could eventually include moving to automated platforms that would reduce the reliance on human subject matter experts to respond to queries. The new processes developed under the current contract will help ATSDR better serve the people and agencies who depend on them while controlling their information management costs.
For his day job at Battelle, statistician Andrew Landgraf works on a variety of data science problems ranging from clinical predictive analytics to brain signal interpretation. In his spare time, he uses his analytical expertise to tackle data science contests across many different domains.
Recently, Andrew placed second out of 73 teams in the defined-data qualifying match of the Global Energy Forecasting Competition (GEFCom) 2017. The competition, which was sponsored by the IEEE Power and Energy Society, asked competitors to predict energy use for 10 New England regions on an hour-by-hour basis across a four-month period from January 2017 to April 2017. His solution ensembled statistical techniques including quantile regression, gradient boosting machines and random forests to produce a probabilistic prediction for each hour within the time frame.
As a result of his winning prediction, Andrew was invited to present his methods at the International Symposium on Energy Analytics in Cairns, Australia, and his methods will be published by the International Institute of Forecasters in a special journal issue. Building better medium-range predictions for energy use will help energy planners make better decisions that will improve the stability of the electrical grid.
This is not Andrew’s first data science competition win. In April of this year, he won a competition to predict the outcomes of the college basketball championship, and in 2013 he won a student competition hosted by Capital One to give their customers the most accurate personalized recommendations for new places to shop.
He explains, “These are all machine learning problems. The data science and statistical methods are very similar, no matter what industry you are working in. We just need to apply domain expertise to understand the objective and define the best inputs for the model.”
Andrew has applied his expertise to a broad range of problems at Battelle, including statistical analysis for the federal highway administration and chemical and biological warfare agent identification. In the health analytics realm, he worked on data analysis for the Healthy Communities Study, a five-year study of factors influencing childhood obesity. He was also part of the analytical team for Battelle NeuroLife™, a groundbreaking neural bypass technology that interprets brain signals from the motor cortex and sends them to a specialized sleeve to give paralyzed patients conscious control of their hands. For another project, he built a machine learning model with clinical and proteomic data to predict the likelihood of a patient needing a knee replacement and identified the most important contributing factors.
Andrew holds both a Ph.D. and an M.S. in Statistics from The Ohio State University along with a B.S. in Actuarial Science. His research has focused on machine learning using high-dimensional count and binary data. His past experience includes transportation research with the Campus Transit Lab at Ohio State University and forecasting electricity usage at IGS Energy. He also was a fellow in the Eric & Wendy Schmidt Data Science for Social Good Fellowship at the University of Chicago.
He looks forward to applying his expertise to new problems, both at Battelle and for future data science competitions.
On Aug. 28, Battelle was awarded the Military Health System Research Symposium Outstanding Research Team Accomplishment Award.
The team, led by Erik Edwards and with funding from the Office of Naval Research, is developing a next generation medical device to treat severely injured limbs to maximize tissue preservation during the care continuum from field to trauma center.
A key accomplishment for the award was the development of an oxygen generating "pump" that requires no batteries and no external power to steadily provide three liters of oxygen to a wound site over a three-day period.
The oxygen pump will revolutionize the way battlefield traumatic injuries are treated and increase quality of life for service men and women. It also has potential to aid in the treatment of other chronic pervasive wounds that are worsened by poor circulation, such as foot ulcers, which affect millions of people living with diabetes.
Battelle is pleased to welcome Douglas Weber to the Battelle Health Analytics team as the new Director of Neurotechnology Research and Development. A biomedical engineer and neurotechnology pioneer, Doug brings more than 20 years of experience on the front lines of neurotechnology innovation, with a career that has resulted in eight patents (and counting) and a biotechnology startup.
At Battelle, Doug will first focus on further development of Battelle NeuroLife™, a groundbreaking neural bridging technology that allowed a paralyzed man to regain conscious, dexterous control of his hand and fingers. He plans to extend NeuroLife’s capabilities and make it accessible for more patients, including stroke and TBI patients and people with other types of movement disorders.
Prior to joining Battelle, Doug completed a four-year term as a Program Manager in the Biological Technologies Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, VA, where he created and managed a portfolio of programs providing over $300M in funding for neuroscience and neurotechnology research. Doug is also the cofounder of Bionic Power, Inc., a Vancouver-based biotechnology company that has invented a device that harvests energy produced by people’s legs as they walk.
In addition to his work at Battelle, Doug will retain his faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Bioengineering and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Doug earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Arizona State University and completed postgraduate work at the University of Alberta Centre for Neuroscience. He holds a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Milwaukee School of Engineering. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Physiological Society, and the Biomedical Engineering Society.
Steve Risser is always working to make medical devices and other products stronger, smaller, safer or more functional. Over his 30-year career in materials science, he has been instrumental in the development of dozens of innovations across a diverse range of industries. Read More