IT Matters: Sociome

October 25, 2021

This IT Matters speaker series featured a team of UChicago faculty studying the Sociome —the social, environmental, behavioral, and psychological factors play a critical role in human health. In contrast to genomic and clinical data, sociomic factors have not been comprehensively collected, codified, and quantified for the large-scale data mining and analysis techniques transforming modern healthcare. The researchers are working to leverage data-driven insights on these factors to better predict and treat health outcomes.

UChicago CIO Kevin Boyd led a discussion with faculty members that included Ellen Cohen, Marynia Kolnan, Sanjay Krishnan, Susan Paykin, Julian Soloway, and Sam Volchenboum.

View the IT Matters Sociome recording (Panopto video).

IT Matters Sociome video

About the Speakers

Ellen Cohen oversees day-to-day operations at the Center for Health and the Social Sciences and serves as Executive Director of the MyCHOICE program. She is the former Dean of Students at the Harris School of Public Policy, where she collaborated with faculty on interdisciplinary curriculum development, training programs, research, and applied learning opportunities for students. She also worked with external groups to create forums where researchers, practitioners, and students apply evidence-based analysis to policy problems across domains. Before joining the Harris School, Ellen held administrative positions at DePaul University, the Art Institute of Chicago, Brandeis University, and Brown University.

Marynia Kolnan is Associate Director for Health Informatics in the Center for Spatial Data Science. She is a health geographer using open science tools and an exploratory data analytic approach to investigate issues of equity across space and time. Her research centers on how “place” impacts health outcomes in different ways, for different people, from opioid risk environments to chronic disease clusters. She focuses on quantifying and distilling the structural determinants of health across different environments, tying political ecology models of public health with geocomputational methods and quasi-experimental policy evaluation techniques. In addition to her role at the University of Chicago, Marynia serves as an Health and Medical Specialty Group (AAG) board member, and chair of the Chicago Public Health GIS Network.

Sanjay Krishnan is Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science. His research focuses on applications of machine learning and control theory to computer and cyber-physical systems problems. His group explores the intersection of AI and data science—towards a world where intelligent systems can automatically perform many of the data analytics tasks we currently expect humans to do. By designing “intelligent learning systems,” that automatically adapt and optimize to new data and tasks, Asst. Prof. Krishnan hopes to create more flexible and powerful systems that enable visions of a more autonomous world.

Susan Paykin is Senior Research Manager for the Healthy Regions and Policies Lab at the Center for Spatial Data Science. She manages a growing portfolio of applied research projects related to spatial analysis, GIScience, and regionally-driven public health and public policy. She also oversees community and research partnerships to help the Lab’s research initiatives and applications achieve meaningful public impact.

Julian Soloway is the Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics; Director, Institute for Translational Medicine; Dean for Translational Medicine for the Biological Sciences Division; Vice Chair, Research for Department of Medicine; and Chair, Committee on Molecular Medicine. He is an expert in pulmonary medicine with a particular interest in the management of severe and persistent asthma. Under his leadership, researchers, scientists and clinicians work to understand the causes of disease and to bring new therapies to the public.

Dr. Solway’s research focuses on the structure and function of smooth muscle, the tissue that encircles the bronchial tubes. When irritated, smooth muscle contracts, narrowing these air passages and making it hard to breathe. By studying this process, Dr. Solway hopes to find more effective treatments for asthma. His work has been extensively funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Samuel Volchenboum is Associate Professor of Pediatrics; Dean of Master’s Education; Associate Chief, Research Informatics Officer; and Associate Director, Institute for Translational Medicine. He is an expert in pediatric cancers and blood disorders. He has a special interest in treating children with neuroblastoma, a tumor of the sympathetic nervous system. In addition to caring for patients, Dr. Volchenboum studies ways to harness computers to enable research and foster innovation using large data sets. He directs the development of the International Neuroblastoma Risk Group Database project, which connects international patient data with external information such as genomic data and tissue availability. The Center he runs provides computational support for the Biological Sciences Division at the University of Chicago, including high-performance computing, applications development, bioinformatics, and access to the clinical research data warehouse.

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